Charlie Rose, Gayle King to join Erica Hill as anchors on new CBS morning show Jan. 9
Like so many developments in the TV biz, it was news broken by other reporters many days ago.
But CBS News confirmed on Tuesday widely circulated rumors about revamping its morning show, featuring PBS anchor Charlie Rose and former Oprah Winfrey Network host Gayle King as their new top anchors -- joining Early Show co-anchor Erica Hill on a yet-unnamed new broadcast debuting Jan. 9.
Executives confirmed the show would focus more on hard news in the vein of its newly refocused CBS Evening News, eschewing cooking segments and outdoor concerts for more substantive fare. As example, CBS News chairman Jeff Fager cited an important change: they have no weather forecaster, instead cutting to local stations for their forecasters.
The change is classic Fager, smartly giving local stations a biggest stake in the show while eliminating a job that mostly serves as a source for fluff on ABC and NBC's rival programs.
"I will now be able to paint on two canvases in the morning...and in the evening," said Rose who will continue to host his self-named PBS interview show each night.
King, known mostly as a close friend of media queen Oprah Winfrey, said she would stop hosting her TV show for Winfrey's OWN network and likely end her program on Sirius XM satellite to provide "150% focus" to CBS' effort. Sworn to secrecy about the job beforehand, King admitted telling Winfrey in advance, saying her superstar friend likely won't show on the program "right this second."
Translation: they'll probably bring her on for February's "sweeps" shows.
"We are not your typically stuffy program," added King, who joked about having a tattoo of rapper 50 Cent on her arm and recalled a news story which dubbed her paring with Rose "audacious and intriguing." "Despite everything you've heard about CBS News, you've never heard the words 'audacious and intriguing,'" she said. "At the very least, you'll check it out and say 'Let's see what these guys are up to.'"
The network announced the changes as a press conference inside CBS News headquarters in Manhattan's Upper West Side, offering journalists a tour of the still-unfinished studio under construction there. Early Show newsreader Jeff Glor will become a special correspondent, alongside new hire John Miller, an investigative reporter who worked for ABC News before joining the Department of Homeland Security; anchor Chris Wragge leaves the show for WCBS-TV in New York.
This will be the second revamp in a year for CBS' morning show, which remains in distant third place behind NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America.
Since the 1980s, the show has been retitled at least five times, featuring everyone from Diane Sawyer and Meredith Vieira to Bob Saget, Mariette Hartley, Mark McEwen, Harry Smith, Paula Zahn, Julie Chen and Bryant Gumbel.
Critics now wonder if the network can succeed by hiring hosts from comparatively low-rated public broadcasting and cable TV shows; executive stressed the talent of their anchors promising to "reshape morning television."
"(Morning TV) is very much about who you want to wake up with; it's about a habit," said Hill. "We now have this great opportunity to make connections with people who may be looking for something else."