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MSNBC Is Looking For An “Organic” 10 PM Host

Keith Olbermann’s sometimes sit-in Alison Stewart could hold her own in a 10 p.m. slot on MSNBC, but so could a few other contenders.With MSNBC still hustling to become a major player with CNN and FOX News after the presidential election, they’ve decided to make a serious move at developing a 10 p.m. show. In the past they’ve gone with cheesy docu-dramas (“Lockup,” anyone?) and repeats of “Countdown With Keith Olbermann. This has kept them out of the slugfest that is CNN vs. FOX at 10, where the Coop-a-Doop regularly does battle with Greta Van Susteren.

But Universal/NBC executives say they’re ready to get in the game.

Reverting to tape at 10 p.m. puts the network at a disadvantage, especially on busy news nights. Meanwhile, CNN and Fox News are battling for first place in the hour. Last year, “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN outperformed “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” on Fox News among younger viewers, but the Fox program averaged a higher number of total viewers.

With a higher-rated show at 10 p.m., (Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC) predicts that MSNBC can become competitive with Fox among young viewers.

Executives want to go with another fresh-faced host, a la a lesser known who could have big pay-offs like the snarky/cheery Rachel Maddow.

“It’s almost like we’re one personality away,” he said. Mr. Griffin said the network would find a host for the new program the way it developed Ms. Maddow. She substituted for Mr. Olbermann and appeared regularly on the air. A splashy hiring, like the signing of Deborah Norville in 2004 for a short-lived show, does not seem to be a priority. “I want it to be organic,” Mr. Griffin said.

The internet is a-buzz with possibilities, but their almost exclusively “the usual suspects.” And many are already established white male professional pontificaters/comedians like Dennis Leary, Bill Maher and loud-Liberal radio host Ed Schultz (who recently made the move to D.C., methinks).

Considering two of those men already have TV shows (Leary produces and stars in the drama “Rescue Me” on FX and Maher hosts “Real Time” on HBO), they don’t sound like they come with a discount. I’m also not a big fan of Schultz’s yelling. (One screaming Chris Matthews is enough, please!) But rather than go with a former pundit, jokester or screaming hack, couldn’t they “play it straight” and get someone who could compete directly with The Grey Fox of CNN, Anderson Cooper? A slightly quirky, charming, but serious news man or woman to balance out all the opinionators?

It also wouldn’t hurt to “diverse up” the place a tad. Blogger/freelancer Joseph Bua of I Am A TV Junkie noticed that MSNBC is now pushing Chicago Tribune columnist Eugene Robinson in more of their advertising which he saw as a lazy way of getting in on some “Hey! We have Obama Era minorities too!” action.

The only problem is Robinson is a guest commentator, not a host. And with that stutter he’s not even host material. I love The Gene. I read his columns. But I would not watch The Gene pimp a 10 p.m. show any more than I’d make Larry “The Highlander” King a nightly habit.

(I)t’s fine with me that they wanna put Gene up there above the logo with the people whose shows he appears on, but it looks to me that MSNBC is trying more to look diverse than they are to be diverse.

Don’t get me wrong, having an out gay person host a show (an OUT person, not Anderson) is a great show of diversity, but they do not have a Black show host. Putting Eugene Robinson’s face up to show diversity is a bit disingenuous, don’ t you think?

If they wanted to be diverse, they could have given the 1600 show or at least the timeslot to any number of qualified African-American hosts. I’ve always like Alison Stewart, a lot in fact, and wonder why she’s never in the loop. (I Am A TV Junkie)

Bua offers up some not-half-bad suggestions as serious, but engaging newsfolk who could rise to the challenge of a 10 p.m. slot. Along with the talented Ms. Stewart he mentions Snob favorites Tamron Hall, a regular daytime anchor on MSNBC and the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup of the TV News himself, CNN’s TJ Holmes. If any two people could compete in the “Who’s hotter than Anderson Cooper” beauty contest, Tamron’s sexy wit and TJ’s sexy everything wouldn’t be bad places to start.

Although I think Tamron would be the better moderator. No offense, my fair TJ.

Jossip also threw Rosie O’Donnell’s name into the ring, but I’m going to have to give a “hell.to.the.naw.” to that one. No more people screaming without facts. I don’t need a “Sean Hannity of the Left” producing whackadoo material. She was grating enough on “The View.”

Other folks who could use an upgrade (or are in desperate need of a regular gig): the woman CNN has no clue what to do with, Soledad O’Brien; MSNBC’s other charming daytime anchor Christina Brown; unemployed, standard-baring gray-stalwarts Dan Rather and Ted Koppel (they have name recognition and will work for gravitas alone); NBC’s lovely, but wasted Ann Curry; ABC’s super survivor Robin Roberts;  the youthful, fearless, “she’s reported everywhere,” Lisa Ling. And, if we must go with a witty, camera-friendly comic — can I suggest Aisha Tyler? I mean, I would watch Aisha talk about folding laundry and she’s one-fourth of my fantasy version of “The View,” that would feature her with Alison Stewart, Amy Holmes and Michelle Bernard (and sometimes Wanda Sykes, because, you know? She’s pretty awesome too).

Who would you turn off the 10 o’ clock local news to see? (Sources: New York Times, Jossip)

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15 thoughts on “MSNBC Is Looking For An “Organic” 10 PM Host

  1. Problem one with TJ "Playboy" Holmes is that he gives me pseudo-journalist. I just don’t see him holding the fort down with some real journalists. Tamron’s been in the biz and came out of Chi-town politics, she could shut someone down quick fast and in a hurry.I’m still holding out hope for a point-counterpoint show with Jamal Simmons (who should be current press secretary for the WH, but that’s another issue I have) and Amy Holmes, but I doubt aside from TvOne, not even MSNBC is willing to do that. I would like to see some more level of diversity on the nightly cable programs–even get some Latinos in on the action because the level of whiteness is starting to work my nerves severely.

  2. Kiye says:

    While I could listen to Soledad almost any day and am just as confused as the other person about her duties at CNN, I do believe MSNBC needs a serious chocolate infusion. I would turn off Pretty Boy Andy Dandy for Allison Stewart – love listening to her and she has and is, steadily building an impressive resume. TJ on the other hand, while incredibly hot, I cannot take him seriously. He hasnt in my opinion done anything substantial for lack of a better word, and I would probably tune in for first 20 secs to see his gorgeous face and nice threads, then switch for the duration of the hour to AC360. I dont even recall him doing any coverage for the inauguration. I wonder if he really cares about news or is just too comfortable at his weekend anchor desk…….Nonetheless with some time TJ will be getting the votes for beauty and journalistic skills.

  3. Clarence Page, Eugene Robinson and the Black guy on PBS’ Inside Washington need to stay away from TV and radio. They seem to generally know what they’re talking about but the stuttering is really distracting.Allison Stewart is okay but she’s a little boring. Also isn’t she married to the President of MSNBC?I’m not to sure about Soledad after the way she botched the Black America thing.How about Gail King or Nightline’s Vicky Mabrey?

  4. Anthony Nurse says:

    While my penis would greatly appreciate Allison Stewart getting a regular show, there is a better candidate out there.Bryant Gumbel.He sure has the talent and the gravitas. He is not linked to a political ideology; MSNBC could use a non-left leaning (and by leaning, I mean violently lurching) prime time host. The smarts of the proposed prime time lineup would dwarf whatever CNN (Larry King?) or Fox News (Sean Hannity?) could throw out there. And am I the only one salivating thinking of Gumbel calmly sinking his claws into John Boehner when he says something obviously incorrect and stupid?In the real world it wouldn’t work. Gumbel is really too good for the 10p shift. He would want too much money. And if MSNBC staffers think working for Olbermann is a pain, wait until the master shows up. But a man can dream.

  5. serena kitt says:

    A vote for Bryant Gumbel, over here. He’s one of the most respected newspersons of our time. And MSNBC needs a big-news-person who isn’t Olbermann; their other high-level personalities all look kind of small under His Hostliness. Rachel Maddow is my TV life partner, but we’re never going to get another shot at commentary like that. It’s time for some news. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see that– actual news, and reporting, on the news?

  6. Danielle Belton says:

    I have to agree with Gumbel. He would be pretty sweet, but a little bird tells me MSNBC is CHEAP AS HELL. Judging by repeats of "Lockup" and "Dateline: To Catch A Predator," I’m inclined to believe this story.

  7. Thanks as usual for the link, though the second I mentioned TJ I thought of you, wow is he nice to look at. Funny, Don Lemon is the one at CNN getting all the buzz right now and he’s a good journo but, well … you know where my tastes lie.Apparently that Eugene Robinson promo was for Inauguration Day only. Still, isn’t strange how all these wonderful, thoughtful people of color are now being asked what they think about things in front of TV cameras.What gets me is that they’ve been here the whole time. We should have seen them much sooner.It makes me think, "Who else is out there who is not getting the soapbox to stand on that should?"And I do enjoy Alison Stewart. And as far as I know, she’s married to Bill Wolff, who is the guy who wrote the Martin Lawrence movie Rebound.

  8. Danielle Belton says:

    @ Joe BuaHey, any fan of TJ is a friend of mine! And I’m glad my TJ love has reached near legendary status!But seriously, If Andy Cooper can have a show, why not the Teege? Really. He’s good on the eyes. And if he could tone back the Rick Sanchez impression he did when he sat in for him a few weeks back, he’d be a perfect, pretty talking head.Can’t they send him to "serious anchor" boot camp, or something? Send him to Afghanistan during that "surge." Anything! Throw him in the fire and see if he’s got the right stuff.

  9. Well, my first newswoman crush has always been Jacque Reid since BET days although I am developing a thing for Tamron Hall. I think Ms. Allison Stewart could be my next official newswoman crush. lol

  10. Winn says:

    I’ve got to vote for my two girl crushes, Alison Stewart and Tamron Hall. Or damnit, she may not be as "traditionally" camera-ready as my two girls, but what about Miss Needs-A-Job-Come-March-Because-NPR-Can-Only-Have-One-Show-From-A-Black-Perspective-At-A-Time Farai Chiedya? She runs News and Notes in masterful style, she’s experienced on television, obviously politically knowledgable and astute but yet approachable and likeable as well. She’s a politcal analyst, a print as well as a broadcast journalist, a published author of both non-fiction and fiction, and was one of the earliest pop culture bloggers on the internets. After being on radio for a while, I’d love to see how she’d readjust her style and technique to the demands of TV. Give Farai a job, MSNBC!

  11. RainaHavock says:

    I love Love love Tamaron Hall! She has my vote. I’m with Monie, Alison though very pretty is kind of boring. I really don’t like it when she feels in for Keith or Rachel. Also her husband is VP of Programming at MSNBC and she’s already had her own show called "The Most with Alison Stewart". It was canceled after a year I think. Also I’m still not feeling Soledad after she screwed up what could have been an excellent documentary "Black in America". I like Eugene Robertson and yes I will go with Danielle’s hubby TJ Holmes!

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