O’Donnell’s Predictable About-Face on MSNBC

Apparently, I knew Lawrence O’Donnell’s mind better than he did.

In April, after he had spent weeks ably filling in for Keith Olbermann, I interviewed O’Donnell about the relationship between Hollywood and Washington and asked the former “The West Wing” producer whether he might consider hosting his own show on MSNBC.

Quoting from that column:

The modern cable news era has become a boom time for pundits,
“strategists” and partisan hacks, and O’Donnell concedes the Obama
presidency is “a fantastic time to do this kind of work.” Nevertheless,
he still considers MSNBC “a hobby, no matter how many hours of the day I
spend here,” and insists he feels “like George Plimpton all the time”
whenever stepping into the anchor/hosting role, referring to the late
role-playing literary journalist.

O’Donnell also told me that if MSNBC asked him to host a show, he wouldn’t be interested, preferring to focus on writing and producing.

For all that, I wasn’t particularly surprised by MSNBC’s announcement today that O’Donnell would take over the 10 p.m. hour, fleshing out a primetime lineup consisting — as Olbermann noted on Tuesday — of Olbermann followed by his two former fill-in hosts, Rachel Maddow and now O’Donnell.

The truth is there aren’t that many people with the chops to host a show (MSNBC’s Ed Schultz experiment is an ongoing example of that), making the likelihood that the channel would try to find a regular role for O’Donnell predictable. And now MSNBC will be original from 8-11 p.m. ET, instead of repeating Olbermann in the last hour.

Bringing in O’Donnell does signal one other thing: Olbermann’s considerable influence over MSNBC’s lineup — again, not a surprise, given his close relationship with channel prez Phil Griffin.

MSNBC has yet to set a date for the new program, but I suspect O’Donnell will be on before the midterm elections.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1

Leave a Reply

1 Comment

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Aaron says:

    I look forward to hearing a creative person’s view of political happenings. It would be great to hear a point of view that is fresh and unswayed by the desire to appease any particular interests. O’Donnell, having such deep pockets from television affords that position.

More Voices News from Variety