CBS Vows New Morning Show Unlike All the Rest

L-r: Erica Hill, Gayle King and Charlie Rose of CBS's soon-to-be-revamped morning show (Photo: CBS)

L-r: Erica Hill, Gayle King and Charlie Rose of CBS's soon-to-be-revamped morning show (Photo: CBS)

CBS officially anointed its new morning team Tuesday, putting on a news conference, and revealing some — but not all — of the details about the newly revamped “Early Show.”

In fact, the show’s name itself will likely be jettisoned in favor of something new, CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager (who’s also executive producer of “60 Minutes”) told reporters gathered at CBS News headquarters on West 57th Street in Manhattan.

The new show was untitled in the press release CBS distributed Tuesday to announce the previously reported news that Charlie Rose and Gayle King are joining the morning show and Chris Licht will be executive producer. Erica Hill and Jeff Glor remain from the existing show.

Here’s what we learned at the news conference about CBS’s latest plan to pull its morning show out of third place:

Producers and CBS News execs vowed to do a show that would reflect CBS News “values” – defined loosely as having something to do with its hard-news heritage (for which they evoked the names of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and others). What this means specifically is that CBS will try and put the news first, and will attempt to avoid such morning television staples as cooking segments, pop-star concerts outside its plate-glass windows, and having its anchor team dress up in costumes on Halloween (among other stunts). With this approach, they said they hope to build a show without constantly looking over their shoulders to see what NBC’s “Today” show or ABC’s “Good Morning America” are doing. The execs at the news conference vowed to produce “a program that’s very different, that doesn’t try and copy what the other shows do.”

The new show will debut on the second Monday of the new year – Jan. 9 – and will originate from a new studio under construction in the CBS News building (known as the Broadcast Center). That means that CBS morning television will trade in its current location at the southeast corner of Central Park on a well-traveled portion of Fifth Avenue that’s filled with tourists, shoppers and office workers for a far west-side block that has far fewer of any of those people.

The co-host assignments are supposed to work like this: Erica Hill and Charlie Rose will handle the 7-8 a.m. hour (6-7c), which, as currently planned, will be somewhat more focused on hard news than the show’s second hour at 8/7c. That second hour will be led by Gayle King. And here’s where it got kind of confusing. Reporters asked if Gayle would somehow handle the hour by herself, or would either Erica and/or Charlie be available to work that hour too. The execs and producers weren’t really able to answer that definitively, indicating that that all depends on how the show evolves in its first weeks.

Charlie Rose will continue to host his daily PBS interview show, while Gayle will end her Sirius XM radio show – the very same show that’s simulcasted on her friend Oprah Winfrey’s cable network, OWN. About Oprah, Gayle said her long-time friend “is definitely in my corner.”

The new CBS morning show will have no weatherman or -woman. Weather will be handled locally via the usual “cutaways” to your local CBS weather guy (or gal). In this way, CBS is indeed backing up its stated intention to do a morning show that’s not like the rest. After all, weather personalities have long been a staple of morning TV, but on CBS, they’re due to go the way of cooking segments and Halloween costumes.

And, as we have done many, many, many times before when CBS has revamped its morning show(s), we wish them the very best of luck.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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