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KTVU’s Frank Somerville to take a break after bizarre newscast behavior

Mercury News logo Mercury News 6/3/2021 Chuck Barney
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Four days after KTVU anchor Frank Somerville abruptly left the air during a newscast in which he repeatedly slurred and stumbled over his words, station management finally addressed the situation, saying the veteran newsman will take an indefinite leave of absence.

Victoria Gurrieri, a New York-based spokesperson for Fox — the network that owns and operates KTVU — said on Thursday, “We can confirm Frank is taking time away from the desk to focus on his health and we welcome his return when he is ready.” No other details were offered.

Somerville, one of the Bay Area’s highest-paid and most visible TV journalists, alarmed viewers during a Sunday evening (May 30) newscast in which he appeared to be struggling to read news copy off the Teleprompter.

About 15 minutes into the broadcast, he was gone from the desk without explanation. Co-anchor Julie Haener finished the newscast alone. The station never acknowledged whether Somerville voluntarily dropped out of the newscast, or was pulled by management.

Somerville has been off the air ever since. Until Fox issued its brief statement Thursday afternoon, there had been no public explanation from KTVU, or Fox, or from the anchor himself. That left KTVU viewers to fill the void with online speculation, some of which hasn’t cast Somerville in the best of light.

a man wearing a suit and tie: frank © Provided by Mercury News frank

Many, however, have expressed sincere concern for the veteran newsman who in 2008 landed one of the market’s most coveted jobs when he was named the replacement for Bay Area icon Dennis Richmond.

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Since then, he and Haener have headlined KTVU’s “Ten O’ Clock News,” which long has been the Bay Area’s highest rated newscast.

There was no word yet from KTVU as to who would be taking Somerville’s place on the anchor desk, but Heather Holmes has been filling in this week.


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