Before Tuesday’s announcement — when the 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, CBS would have a more serious, news-driven show than those competitors, which have become increasingly fluffy.
You’ll know right away that 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.
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 that Jeff Fager is chairman of CBS News and exec producer of “60 Minutes.”
Fager said he asked Charlie to do the show because, he said, Charlie is the closest thing there is these days to “60 Minutes” great Mike Wallace. And because Fager said he misses working with Mike, and Mike was one of Charlie’s biggest fans — but as big as Charlie is. Charlie 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.
Charlie is keeping his PBS gig and so will “be able to paint on two canvases,” he said. Without breaking a sweat, Charlie 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.
Charlie also dropped the name of Facebook CEO and co-creator Mark Zuckerberg — seems Charlie recently had lunch with him at a conference, and Gayle was there, too. Gayle jumped in as Charlie was talking to Zuckerberg. Charlie later told CBS News brass: “She’s a very impressive young woman.”
Charlie also wanted attendees to know that he has found Erica to be a “surprisingly funny and interesting person.”
Gayle confided that she got goose bumps walking into the same building that housed all those newscasting greats such as Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. And she wanted to wear a pretty dress as befitted 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 that she’s friends with all the folks on “Morning Joe” and “Good Morning America” and “Today” and that “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 the 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.