Keith Olbermann is lining up an all-star team of “progressive” contributors who will appear regularly on his new “Countdown” show on Current TV.
He’ll have about 20 such contributors, Olbermann revealed in a tweet this week, but he announced five names late Wednesday: PBS documentarian Ken Burns (an interesting choice since we don’t usually associate the mild-mannered filmmaker with partisan debate on cable), comedian Richard Lewis, firebrand filmmaker Michael Moore, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, and Nicole D. Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics.
“I’m delighted and honored that so many of my friends, who are not coincidentally among the top progressive and entertainment voices in the country today, will be joining me as contributors,” Olbermann said in a prepared statement.
“Be clear: These are just the first five names,” Olbermann said on his personal Web site FOKNewschannel.com (the site’s name stands for “Friends of Keith,” but it’s also designed to resemble Fox News Channel). “And they’re not even all the big names, who are already committed to ‘Countdown,’ and who we’ll be announcing in the less-than-six weeks before premiere night. It’s a helluva roster, if I must say so myself.”
The new “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” – which has the same title as his former show on MSNBC (apparently, he was able to take the title with him when he left in January) – premieres on Current June 20. It will air weeknights at 8/7c, the time period he once occupied on MSNBC. Of course, as before, the slot is opposite his arch-nemesis, Bill O’Reilly (“The O’Reilly Factor”), on Fox News Channel.
Current is the cable channel co-founded by Al Gore (with Joel Hyatt). The addition of an Olbermann talk show to the channel’s prime-time lineup marks a departure from the channel’s customary fare of viewer-generated content. With a presumably high-priced star and 10 full-time staffers (according to some staff data Keith posted on his Web site), “Countdown” is probably the most expensive venture Current has ever invested in, which means a lot is riding on Olbermann.
His challenge: To draw viewers interested in partisan political commentary and debate away from the much more established MSNBC and FNC to Current, which up until now has never been a destination for viewers seeking that kind of programming.