June 29, 1998 12:00 PM

ABC (Weekdays, 7 a.m. ET)

Kevin Newman joined Good Morning America as newscaster last November and replaced Charles Gibson as Lisa McRee’s coanchor in May. But does he pay attention for the whole two hours? We had to wonder early this month when critic Joel Siegel closed his review of The Truman Show with “Gentlemen, start your cameras—the Oscar race is on!” and Newman said, “I’ve never seen you this excited with a movie.” Really? Even occasional GMA watchers know Siegel’s raves are almost as common as weatherman Spencer Christian’s puns.

With the installation of a fresh anchor team (McRee succeeded Joan Lunden last September) and a new set (which makes Newman and McRee look as if they’re stranded on a small island in a sea of floor space), all America supposedly has more reason to pay attention to GMA, which has been running a distant second to NBC’s Today in the breakfast-time ratings. “Wake up to it,” the ads urge, so we can hardly close our eyes to GMA’s flaws. For instance, McRee sometimes seems to rely on prepared questions to the exclusion of obvious follow-ups (as in her interview with newly elected National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston). Maybe she’s not listening to the guest. And maybe her coanchor isn’t always listening to himself. Asked by Newman whether he had saved anything from a fire that destroyed his home, a Florida man replied, “We got the shirt on our back, and that’s it.” A well-meaning Newman ventured, “Well, I guess you can be thankful for that, at least.” Wouldn’t that depend on the quality of the shirt?

Bottom Line: A bright new day has yet to dawn

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