A Los Angeles TV station is moving on following more than a week of drama that resulted in the firing of an anchorman.
KTLA, a CW affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group, has quickly assembled a new team, including Megan Telles and Pedro Rivera, to lead its weekend morning broadcast after terminating Mark Mester following his on-air criticism about how his co-anchor Lynette Romero's sudden exit was announced publicly. Videos of his shocking monologue went viral and many viewers have expressed outrage at both journalists' departures.
"Morale on the morning shift has been very strong this weekend," a station source with knowledge of the situation told E! News. "The team came together, rallied around each other with a feeling of camaraderie, having the awareness that many viewers have posted on social media that they will be boycotting KTLA this weekend."
E! News has reached out to KTLA, Mester and Romero for comment and has not heard back.
"Mark has hired an attorney and is exploring legal options against KTLA," the source told E! News.
The source told E! News that Romero is "happy to be headed to KNBC," and has accepted a job that includes mostly anchoring and only on weekdays. E! News has reached out to the Los Angeles TV station for comment and has not heard back.
Romero has not confirmed her next career move but did tweet following her exit from KTLA, "I will always be grateful for the love and affection LA viewers have given me. Stay tuned my friends I'll be right back."
The source told E! News that after Romero notified station leaders of her intent to leave for a direct competitor, she expressed her desire to say goodbye live on the air and KTLA refused, instead offering her the option to record a taped goodbye message to viewers. She declined the offer, the insider said.
In a Sept. 23 statement to E! News, Drafs said, "We really wanted her to stay, and KTLA Management worked hard to make that happen. Lynette decided to leave for another opportunity. We had hoped she would record a farewell message to viewers, but she declined. Lynette has been a wonderful member of the KTLA family and wish her and her family the best."
KTLA ended up airing a pre-taped tribute to Romero. Mester introduced that segment on KTLA's Sept. 17 morning broadcast. It would end up being his final one. Before the montage aired, he spoke on the air about how his former co-anchor's departure was revealed to viewers. The station's entertainment reporter, Sam Rubin, had announced her exit during a broadcast three days prior.
Regarding that announcement, Mester said that "what the viewers experienced was rude, it was cruel, it was inappropriate." During his monologue, he had a photo of himself and Romero standing with KTLA Vice President and General Manager Janene Drafs, who he called a "terrific woman," flash on the screen.
He apologized to the viewers and to Romero, saying she "deserved to say goodbye," and got emotional before introducing the edited tribute to his "best friend." He also said that they had arranged for a plane to fly over the station with a banner that read, "We love you Lynette."
Turmoil ensued off the air after his comments. KTLA management came to the station to speak with Mester, who then "began swearing openly in the newsroom at them, in front of other employees," the source said, adding, "Mark was asked to leave the newsroom and refused." A second source corroborated the report to E! News, while the Los Angeles Times also reported about a confrontation between Mester and management.
Days later, KTLA fired Mester, E! News confirmed. The station would not comment on the reason behind his termination.
"She has been in touch with Mark and the two of them remain close friends," the first source told E! News. "She was truly touched by his support on the air."
Now is the perfect time to tell @LynetteRomero you love her. We love you Lynette ❤️ pic.twitter.com/7WtRQJq38a
The first source told E! News that while "there is no long term plan in place for the future," the short-term plan is to continue having Megan Telles and Pedro Rivera help fill in on the anchors' desk on weekend mornings, along with Doug Kolk, who tweeted Sept. 24 that KTLA has "always been and still is a very fun place to work." However, Kacey Montoya joined the former two on the broadcasts that day and on Sept. 25.
Good morning!! @mtelles and I are up early and ready for the @KTLAWeekendAM 🔥🐆 pic.twitter.com/yNqmAe9YF2
But many viewers still angry about the departures of Mester and Romero are not happy about the new team. On Sept. 24, a viewer shared a photo of Telles and Rivera on Twitter, with the caption, "@KTLAWeekendAM the new fake @KTLAWeekendAM show starring the fake anchors." The account tweeted back, "No they're real, they exist," adding a thumbs up emoji.
After the main KTLA Twitter promoted the station's Sunday morning broadcast, one person tweeted, "They all suck! Need replacement for the replacements."
Rivera replied to the poster with a GIF of Anthony Anderson's Black-ish character saying, "Damn."
(E! News and KNBC are part of the NBCUniversal family.)
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