For the second time this year, celebrity columnist Brad Schmitt has left his longtime perch at The Tennessean. WKRN-News2 has announced it has hired Schmitt to be its front man on entertainment and celebrity coverage.
Schmitt will make his first appearance on the TV station in mid-August and will continue his focus on local celebrity news and entertainment happenings. He is the second high-profile media figure to cross genres by going to work for News2 this month, after right-wing radio personality Steve Gill joined the station a couple of weeks ago.
Schmitt's "Brad About You" column has run in The Tennessean for 11 years. In February, Nashville-based Country Weekly magazine announced it had hired Schmitt away -- only to see him return to the fold at the Gannett-owned daily later the same day after Publisher Ellen Leifeld interceded with Editor E.J. Mitchell and made sure the paper found a way to bring him back.
Schmitt, a Pittsburgh native, spent 16 years at the newspaper. He became a highly regarded police reporter early in his career there, and in 1994 he was assigned with reporter Susan Thomas to live undercover in a public housing project for a month, reporting on the impact of drugs and crime upon their neighbors.
Later that year, a decision was made to create an identity for him as a celebrity/gossip columnist. An informal newsroom contest to find a name for his planned column resulted in a groundswell of support for "Schmitt Happens," but the title finally arrived at was "Brad About You."
The page-three column had been a fixture for a decade until the arrival of Mitchell as editor in December 2004. Last year, under Mitchell's leadership, Schmitt's column was relegated to the front of the Living section.
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