Thinking Outside the Box at ‘CBS This Morning’

By Merrill Knox 

For its first live remote series of shows since debuting in January, “CBS This Morning” is trying to break the mold.

First, there’s the look: while all three morning shows have broadcast space on the convention floor, “Today and “Good Morning America” originate primarily from their skyboxes. “This Morning” is coming from a makeshift set on the floor of the Forum. It’s collapsed each morning after the show’s close and re-built each night after the convention proceedings.

“You’re taking the audience into a place that they can’t go, and that is always what you’re trying to do,” executive producer Chris Licht told TVNewser during today’s show. “This, at its core, is behind the scenes.”

“This Morning” is also striving to set itself apart editorially, Licht says. For example, all three shows interviewed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who will deliver a speech tonight. Although CBS pre-taped the interview before the show began, Licht ran it midway through the show’s first hour, instead of at the top as ABC and NBC did, a decision he said was made to showcase the seasoned interview skills of Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell.

“You’re going to get a different experience watching a Charlie-Norah interview,” Licht said. “They’re going to get a smart interview, and they’re going to get more time [with the guests].”

Licht, O’Donnell and Rose are off to Charlotte next week for coverage of the Democratic National Convention. They travel with a team of 15 staffers and an anchor desk that is a slightly-smaller replica of the one at Studio 57 in New York, which you can see in our MediabistroTV Cubes episode of CBS News.