Mary Hart follows in the wake of fellow TV stalwarts Oprah Winfrey and Larry King

By Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith So now it’s Mary Hart following in the wake of fellow long-time TV stalwarts Oprah Winfrey and Larry King — as she announced last week that she’s departing her on-air post of 29 years, “Entertainment Tonight.”

The news was a little surprising, since it was just a few months ago that Hart told us, “In the last year and a half, I’ve realized I’m not ready to call it quits.”

She went on, “I’m still having so much fun. I love running into Leonardo Di Caprio, George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. When you know people through the years, there’s a comfort level in your interactions and that’s fun. In a sense, we’ve matured together. And I enjoy the working with the people I see on a daily basis. There are a handful of us who’ve been there all the way – Leonard [Maltin} and myself, and some of the people behind the scenes.”

Hart, who turns 60 in November, did confess she sometimes misses the days when it was “all about the movie stars” in today’s reality TV-packed entertainment world. However, she insisted she enjoyed the good trade-offs of expanding the range of “ET.” She pointed out that 2008 brought her one of “the most exciting times I’ve ever had on the show in terms of interviews, and they weren’t movie stars – they were Michelle and Barack Obama. For me, it’s really a wonderful mix of things….When I’m tired of it I’ll quit. “

Plans call for Hart to hang up her “ET” mic at the end of this coming season – and you’d better believe they’ll be milking her goodbye year for all it’s worth. As for her replacement, let’s just hope it’s not Piers Morgan.

LOOKING BAD: One thing you can say about Fox’s upcoming “Raising Hope” is, the show does not fall into the category of having a low-income family in what appear to be upscale living quarters. In fact, the “Hope” clan’s digs even feature a big pile of junk stored in the living room. Most of the shooting is done on sets on the studio lot, but there is a real world house used for street shots. As cast member Cloris Leachman puts it, “They had to find the right crappy house to go with what we’re doing.”

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