Yesterday CBS made their overhaul of The Early Show official, formally announcing Erica Hill, Gayle King, and Charlie Rose as their new hosts and positioning the morning show, which will get a new name, as a real-news alternative to Today and Good Morning America's chipper fluff. All this is very exciting and w- Zzzzzzzzzz.....
We kid, we kid. To be fair, the producer of the revamped show, which debuts January 9th, is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, which, while covering actual news, does try to put its caffeinated approach front and center. But that's on a cable news network. People go there expecting some semblance of actual news -- only a little infotainment is needed. The tried-and-true network morning show formula, however, is more frivolous; it mostly serves as perky background noise while people stumble around searching for coffee and clean underpants. All the cooking segments and gauzy celebrity interviews have a shallow, important purpose: They are an easy way to, well, ease into the day. Watch what snippets you can, then head off to work. (Or stay home and watch Kathie Lee and Hoda with the rest of the shut-ins and other assorted weirdos.)
So will the Eye's new, more serious format -- there won't be cooking segements, or a couch, or a weatherman, or any of the other comy and familiar stuff -- really function in the way the network brass is hoping it will? Meaning, will anyone want to watch it? CBS' idea is a noble one for sure, but if they're mostly attempting to gain ground on NBC and ABC in the morning show race, as it seems they are, then offering up a semi-serious news program (with, apparently, some pop culture and general interest stuff thrown in), may not be the best strategy to employ. No one ever went broke underestimating, guys. Under.
Also, something must be said about the Charlie Rose factor. Rose is a respected interview journalist, and rightfully so, but his is a PBS program that airs at nighttime, when people are more likely to feel pensive and thoughtful. Will his somnambulant courtly Southern purr really hold up well in the harsh glare of morning light? He's not someone we'd describe has having much "pep," and these network morning shows kinda run on pep.
It's a bold experiment, is what we're saying. And perhaps it will turn out to be less of the dry snooze button it sounds like right now. For example, here's a snippet from yetserday's announcement press conference, as detailed by The Washington Post:
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.”
Ha, spanx! Spanx sounds like regular old morning show blather to us. So yeah, this isn't gonna be The McLaughlin Group or anything. But, yes, it will be a bit more serious than Al Roker in a Halloween costume. And who knows. Folks might want that. Maybe people really are clamoring for straightforward network news in the morning. When they're not too busy cursing work and responsibility and wishing it was summer vacation forever, that is.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.