Dan Gross | Shister column kaput

LONGTIME Inqwaster television columnist Gail Shister has been stripped of her assignment, in a move that's been met with surprise and disapproval by many at that paper and at the Daily News.

On Tuesday, Shister was told she would no longer be writing her widely read column, and would instead be asked to do more pop-culture television features, she confirmed yesterday.

"We're all part of a new world here, and I never thought I'd be immune, but I'm not ready to uncork the champagne yet," Shister said of her disappointment.

"There are better ways to utilize my 25 years of contacts and reportorial skills than to limit me to pop-culture features," she said.

Inqwaster Features Editor Sandy Clark says the decision to re-assign Shister "was made entirely by me." But we have heard the decision was made by a higher power at the paper. Clark told us yesterday that a round of recent layoffs had hurt the Inqwaster's Features Department, which now must make do with fewer people.

Shister's column was "almost exclusively devoted to network news divisions, morning shows, and anchors," and the paper "can't afford a column so narrowly focused," Clark said. "The paper is trying to freshen" its TV coverage and "expand our focus."

Shister's column, which appeared three times a week in the broadsheet, was well-read within the TV industry.

Asked if it was unwise to chip away at yet another area in which the Inqwaster had national standing, Clark said the paper's goal is to "serve our readers, not to make Romenesko," a popular journalism blog found on Poynter.org.

From the bedroom to the ring

The cutest couple in local radio, 94.1 WYSP's Kim Douglas and Wired 96.5's Casey are spicing up their romance. By boxing.

 

The couple will strap on oversize foam gloves and battle one another in Damon Feldman's night of Foxy Boxing March 30 at the Ice Works Skating Complex (701 W. Duttons Mill) in Aston, Delaware County.

Douglas is a green belt in karate and recently got her girlfriend, Casey, to take up the sport.

The fight could go either way, but should be hot no matter what.

Ever-sexy MTV stud Don Vito, Bam Margera's uncle, serves as referee on this headlining bout.

The card features six fights and starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Fox's Smith gets national gig

Nick Smith, a reporter who had a dramatic departure from Fox 29 in November when he and the station couldn't agree to a contract, seems to be getting the last laugh.

 

Smith will host the second season of ABC's "American Inventor," which debuts June 9.

After leaving Philly, Smith worked for the ABC station in San Francisco. Motivational dude Pat Croce will serve as a judge, as will boxer and grill-guru George Foreman, Spanx pantyhose inventor Sara Blakely, and British mogul Peter Jones.

Come Monday, it's Miller Time

Comedian Dennis Miller's new syndicated radio show comes to WNTP (990-AM) on Monday night. He'll be heard from 9 to midnight and syndicated homophobe Michael Savage's show now moves from 12 to 3 a.m.

 

Out and about

District Attorney Lynne Abraham, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan, Drexel President Constantine Papadakis, Comcast's David L. Cohen, radio host Mary Mason and 6ABC's Monica Malpass hit the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge on Wednesday night for a screening of Tigre Hill's "The Shame of a City." The documentary of the 2003 mayor's race comes out on DVD April 10, available in stores and on shameofacity.com.

 

* The Florida Panthers coaching staff of Jacques Martin, including former Flyers goalie Phil Myre, came into Ralph's (760 S. 9th) for four bottles of Italian red wine, calamari, salads, veal and pasta dishes a couple nights back. *

If you have something you'd like to share with Dan, call 215-854-5963, or e-mail grossd@phillynews.com. To read Dan's recent columns, visit http://go.philly.com/dangross.