CNN is diving into the increasingly crowded arena of news-driven comedy, tapping comedian D.L. Hughley to host a show that will offer a skewering take on news and events.
The show, set to air on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET beginning Oct. 25, will feature Hughley and guests riffing on politics, entertainment, sports and pop culture.
Move is a clear bid by CNN to tap into the younger auds who get more of their news from “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” than they do from mainstream news outlets.
Show will include one-on-one interviews with newsmakers and the reporters covering them.
“D.L. is a very thoughtful, well-informed guy with unpredictable views, and I’ve always admired his comedy,” said CNN/U.S. prexy Jon Klein. “The basic premise of the show is, what if a guy like him was let loose in the CNN building for a weekend after the lights went off?”
Klein said CNN could not release the name of the show yet. Veteran producer Mitch Semel will be the exec producer and showrunner.
While Comedy Central has two dominant players in the news-laffer genre — “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” — Klein said the new CNN skein will be different. “Daily” and “Colbert” are “fake newscasts, whereas this is really D.L.’s observations and comments on the week’s events and his riffs on the news,” Klein said.
“I’m a big fan of both of those shows,” Hughley said, “but I’ve got a different skill set. I’m not going to parody a news show or a news anchor. My show will reflect my views on things just as their shows reflect their views.”
For instance, as Hughley continued, “There have been six movies with a black man as the president, and in all those movies, the world was coming to an end. If this election isn’t art imitating life, I don’t know what is.”
The question for CNN is whether younger auds will find the show.
According to Magna Global, median age of CNN’s primetime viewership is 56; for “The Daily Show,” it’s about 35.
The Hughley show will tape before a live audience on one of CNN’s news sets in New York. Asked about the format, Hughley said, “We’re going to have to find our way.” But the general idea is to have fun with the news, either in commenting on it or, more often, by talking to people who are making it.
To that end, CNN’s global newsgathering operations will be key. “He’s got access to the full treasure trove of resources,” Klein said. “We expect he’ll run amok a little.”
“It’s like getting to drive my father’s Mercedes to school. I’d like to know what Jesse Jackson is going to do for a living if Obama is elected,” Hughley said, adding that he would invite Jackson to appear. “I’d like to know what Sarah Palin is going to do if she doesn’t get elected.” Ever notice that she does all the things a good waitress does when she wants better tips? You know, wink and smile.”
Politics will not be the only fodder for the show, Hughley emphasized.
“In three weeks, 50% of the country is going to be angry. So we’ll be looking at a lot of other things, too,” he said.
Klein said he and other CNN execs developed the idea for the show after noticing “a lot of new audiences for this election, and maybe they don’t always want their news in the usual way.”
NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has also ridden a wave of increased ratings the past month due largely to skits based on the presidential campaign. Klein hopes to draw some of those same viewers: “You can soon get your Saturday night comedy-TV habit addressed a little earlier,” he said.
Each installment will bow at 10 p.m. on Saturdays, then repeat on Sundays at the same time.