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).