AS EVENING NEWS COANCHOR AT Los Angeles’ KABC-TV since 1994, Lisa McRee could sleep late most mornings. Those days are about to end. In September, McRee, 35, will start getting up at 4:00 a.m. as coanchor of ratings-impaired Good Morning America. Quips Joan Lunden, whom she succeeds: “I will very happily hand over to her my alarm clock.”
Although McRee had been mentioned for the job for months, she and husband Don Granger, 34, a Paramount Pictures vice president, didn’t pursue it, she says, “because of our life here.” But when ABC made a concrete offer three weeks ago, the couple couldn’t resist. Her husband, says McRee, told her, “It would just be too hard to look back and say, ‘Could have, should have.’ ”
McRee will relocate to Manhattan, where GMA is based, although her five-year contract allows her to return to L.A. twice a month, and Granger plans to spend one week out of four in New York City. “I’m not worried about our marriage,” says McRee of her 18-month union. “I’m just worried about missing him on any given Wednesday and wanting to hug him. That’s the hard part.” The easy part? Payday, for openers. She confirms she’ll earn between $1 and 2 million a year.
The daughter of an insurance businessman and an elementary school teacher, the Fort Worth native graduated from UC-San Diego and worked at several local stations before a stint anchoring ABC’s World News Now from 1992 to 1993. “She’s going to be the future of our morning television,” predicts ABC News chairman Roone Arledge, “if not everybody’s.”
McRee will stay on at KABC until mid-August, when she and Granger hope to go on a long-postponed honeymoon. After that, she’ll start prepping for those new hours. “I asked Joan how long it took to turn her body clock around,” says McRee, laughing. “She told me it took about 17 years.”