CNN Gets Ready For A ‘New Day’

By Alex Weprin 

It was a long few months work to get to “New Day,” CNN’s new morning show, which will launch on June 17th.

In the mornings, chemistry between the hosts plays an enormous role in a show’s success. If viewers don’t like the hosts, they won’t turn them on when they roll out of bed.

“You can’t fake chemistry, you can’t impose it,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said this morning, speaking over breakfast with a gaggle of reporters in the back room at the Landmarc restaurant at Time Warner Center. “When I put Kate next to Chris, I just knew.”

Kate is Kate Bolduan, the erstwhile CNN Congressional correspondent, and Chris is Chris Cuomo, a high-profile poach from ABC News. Zucker says they did screen tests with Cuomo and five other people (including Erin Burnett) before deciding that Bolduan was the right co-anchor. The pair will be joined by Michaela Pereira, who joins CNN from KTLA’s morning news show.

“The first time I met Michaela, I said ‘holy shit, where have you been,’” Zucker recalled. “It is a unique personality and she is incredibly special. ”

Cuomo says of Bolduan that she is like “an instant sister,” and that they clicked when the tested together.

“Thank you bro,” Bolduan quipped. “When Jeff and I started talking and then Chris and I met, I realized that the only thing that would get me out of Washington would be an opportunity like this.”

As for Pereira:

“CNN and I had been having discussions for a few years, but things changed when Jeff started talking to me about what the plan was,” she said. “It took a lot to convince me that this was the time and the place, but once I met the team, I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do.”

With the team in place, Zucker sat down with the senior EP of CNN’s morning lineup Jim Murphy and the EP of “New Day” Matt Frucci and tried to settle on a name for the program.

“We had hundreds of hundreds of titles that came from dozens of people,” Murphy recalled. “‘New Day’ was brought up by several people and it went from off the list to on the list to off the list and on again.”

The panel joked that they heard more variations on the word “sunrise” and “rise and shine” than they knew existed. “Wake Up,” the name of the morning show from “Full House,” was also brought up.

“[‘New Day’] to us did not replicate what everyone else was doing, and it is exactly what it is, and it sets the tone for what we hope CNN is doing,” Murphy says.

So what is “New Day” going to look like exactly?

“Lots of news,  lots and lots of news,” Murphy said. “I think you will find that will be a super newsy morning program, we will also be unlike CNN in the past in that we will be looser, a bit more fun and hopefully a bit more interesting.”

There won’t be a kitchen, although no topic–not even food–is off limits. Murphy echoed Zucker’s sentiment in that news is a broad term. “News means a million things,” said Murphy.

“If you think about an all-talk radio station, I think it is the morning drive  show that set the tone and agenda for the day,” Zucker said. “For a cable network like this it is the same idea.

“It is really important that we have a good and strong morning show, because I want the day to start with a strong offering that sets the tone and the agenda for the day for the entire network,” he added.

That said, everyone involved in the show agreed that they do not expect overnight success.

“We don’t expect anything on day one or week one or month one, we expect this show will find its voice over the next year,” Zucker says.