The Story of a Show With No Budget, a Simple Set and One Iconic Table

By Mark Joyella 

25 years ago today Charlie Rose began sitting down in a largely black studio and talking to guests seated at a round wooden table—a set, he said recently, born of “poverty.”

In a story reported by the actor Bradley Cooper, Rose says the iconic set of The Charlie Rose Show was essentially self-funded, with Rose buying the table for $4,000 after seeing a similar table in the office of Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner.

“I knew if I could put a table in a room, with not much light, and a couple of chairs, I could have a real conversation. And I know that all of you like to eavesdrop on a conversation.”

Over a quarter century, that table has seen some of television’s most interesting conversations. U2 frontman Bono called Rose “a jazz man conversationalist … you’re pretty musical the way you move around the table with words.”

Asked by Cooper what the value of that $4,000 table might be today, an appraiser from Christie’s said it would be difficult to put a fair price on it. “The years of history, the number of people who have sat here … this is a treasure, and it should end up in the Smithsonian.”