CBS News on Tuesday officially unveiled its new, as yet unnamed, morning program, debuting Jan 9, and starring Public Broadcasting Service interviewer Charlie Rose from 7-8 a.m., and Oprah BFF Gayle King from 8-9 a.m.
“The Early Show” holdover Erica Hill will join Rose in the first hour, when the program focuses more on hard news.
Before Tuesday’s announcement, when the new show was just the worst kept secret in the network news business, word on the street was that CBS News would try, again, to get out from under NBC’s “Today” show and ABC’s “Good Morning America” – but this time with a more serious, news-driven show than those competitors, which have become increasingly fluffy.
You’ll know right away this program’s not cut from the same cloth, CBS News suits said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference -- because of its shocking lack of a jolly weatherman working the crowd outdoors, petting-zoo style.
That said, CBS News is installing the obligatory morning-infotainment-show floor-to-ceiling windows at the show’s studio, in the historic CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th in Manhattan, to get that important morning hustle-and-bustle backdrop.
Chris Licht, the former “Morning Joe” producer at MSNBC, who joined CBS News in June as vice president for programming, will retain that role while exec producing the morning program -- in much the same way Jeff Fager is both chairman of CBS News and exec producer of “60 Minutes.”
Fager said he asked Rose to do the show because he’s the closest thing there is these days to “60 Minutes” great Mike Wallace and he misses working with Mike, and Mike was one of Rose’s biggest fans -- but no so big as Rose, who wanted attendees to know that Scott Pelley, now anchor of the CBS evening newscast, likes to say he knew Charlie Rose before he was Charlie Rose.
Rose is keeping his PBS gig and so will “be able to paint on two canvases.” Without breaking a sweat Rose worked in the name of late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, by way of explaining the similarities between creating this new program and Jobs thinking up the iPad and iPhone.
Rose also dropped Facebook CEO and co-creator Mark Zuckerberg’s name – seems Rose had lunch with him recently at a conference, and Gayle was there too, and even though he was talking to Zuckerberg, she jumped in and so Charlie could report to CBS News brass that “she’s a very impressive young woman.”
Rose also wanted attendees to know he has found Hill to be a “surprisingly funny and interesting person.”
Gayle confided she got goosebumps walking into the building, knowing she was in the same building that housed all those newscasting greats like Walter Cronkite. And she wanted to wear a pretty dress for the occasion, because she likes color, only the dress was too tight, so she went back and “put on another Spanx” and now “I can’t breathe but I’m in the dress.”
Gayle also let it be known she’s friends with all the folks on “Morning Joe” and “Good Morning America” and “Today” and “to be part of that club is very special to me.”
Gayle’s dropping her satellite radio show -- which means her telecast of that radio show that runs on Oprah Winfrey Network is also going away – in order, she said, to focus on the CBS News program “150 percent” – except for whatever percent she’s set aside to continue to devote to Oprah’s O magazine, on which Gayle is editor at large.
One reporter bravely noted that Rose and Gayle have “niche audiences,” and wondered why CBS News suits thought millions of people would tune in to watch them.
Fager said the new show will give them a chance to “spread their wings and show the rest of the country how good they can be.”
Rose and Gayle weren’t about to take that lying down.
Rose wanted people to know the show would attract “all the quality people” who currently come to his PBS program.
And Gayle said Oprah herself is “very well aware” of her having accepted the job, and “is certainly cheering me on,” though she didn’t see the point of bringing Oprah on the show for the sake of bringing Oprah on.
(This probably came as news to CNN’s Piers Morgan, who had Oprah on, for the sake of having Oprah on, when he debuted as Larry King’s replacement.)
Anyway, Rose stepped in and said if Gayle didn’t ask Oprah to be on the show he would; then Gayle declared the new program NOT “an Oprah-free zone.”