Who’ll Be Watching Willie Geist’s New Show?: ‘Drug Dealers, Hookers, Drunks Coming Home from Bars’

By Chris Ariens 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Don’t look for a Starbucks mug on Willie Geist’s new MSNBC show.

For one thing, the barista barons aren’t sponsoring “Way Too Early With Willie Geist,” which debuts Monday as the 5:30 a.m. lead-in to Starbucks-studded “Morning Joe.”


For another, the G-Man doesn’t drink java.

Geist’s caffeinated beverage of choice is Mountain Dew. He “power slams” a full can before hitting the “Morning Joe” set. “The stuff glows in the dark,” he says.

Do the Dew, Willie!

Geist will fly solo on the live “Too Early” for 30 minutes before rejoining Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Mike Barnicle on “Joe.”

In the “Joe” family, Geist is the bratty son, caught in the crossfire of his arguing parents. “Uncle Mike” Barnicle “is usually hung over,” Geist cracks, “but he takes me outside and plays catch.”

With a newborn son and toddler daughter in a two-bedroom apartment, Geist doesn’t sleep, anyway, so losing more z’s is no big deal. But will viewers follow?

“There’s a certain type of person who’s up at that time of the morning — drug dealers, hookers, drunks coming home from bars,” says Geist, 34, son of ‘CBS News Sunday Morning” wit Bill Geist.

“We’ve heard that Bill Maher watches the first hour of “Joe” in his hot tub, then passes out.”

Designed as a real newscast with attitude, “Too Early” will also include comedic elements from Geist’s snarky “News You Can’t Use” and his video blog, Zeitgeist. “We’ll bounce from topic to topic,” he says. “The show will fly.”

Back on Earth, there will be weather and business updates, along with a real-life guest. Phoning from home, of course.

“The show is on so obscenely early, no one in their right mind would come and sit on the set,” says Geist, who joined MSNBC in 2005 as a senior producer for Tucker Carlson’s “The Situation.”

“Too Early” is the result of Geist’s relentlessly lobbying MSNBC president Phil Griffin for, in Geist’s words, “a little more real estate.”

With Geist, it’s a safe bet that some of that real estate won’t be real.

“I have a voice that’s a little bit different from others you hear,” he undertstates. “Too Early” “gives me a lab to show some of the things I can do.”