In MSNBC Debut, Ronan Farrow Opts to Talk Foreign Affairs — Not Woody Allen’s

Ronan Farrow
James Devaney/WireImage

Ronan Farrow took to MSNBC Monday to demonstrate his access to big-name guests, his facility with complex topics of global import and, subtly, to toss cold water on the idea that his family affairs might become part of his program’s daily conversation.

Anyone tuning in to “Ronan Farrow Daily” hoping its nicely pedigreed host would address his or his sister Dylan’s relationship with their estranged  father Woody Allen was likely disappointed. But those who expected the network’s usual dose of progressive finger-wagging may have walked away surprised: The host of MSNBC’s new 1 p.m. program steered the show away from anything salacious or argumentative in favor of something more reasoned and intelligent.

Over the course of an hour, Farrow demonstrated a detached, bemused stance toward the stories he presented. He didn’t appear to be a cheerleader for a particular cause (a slip made by more seasoned MSNBC host Alex Wagner, who used the phrase “why we chose Chuck Hagel” when reacting to the U.S. Defense Secretary’s decision to trim the Pentagon’s budget).  And he tipped his hand several times to social media, asking his viewers to use Twitter to express their opinions about a story on the show or to send a picture describing their problems with college debt.

“Ronan Farrow Daily” may not be a make-or-break program for MSNBC – though the network likely hopes the show will fare better than “Andrea Mitchell Reports” in the time slot – but it is snaring attention nonetheless. Its host is a  Rhodes Scholar, a one-time Obama foreign policy official and the child of celebrities who has quietly cut a swath in recent months by appearing on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

In his opening program, Farrow tried to mix topics on serious segments, with small doses of youthful levity, such as his use of “weed” or “pot” to talk about marijuana during a segment about the drug. His first segment, all about the unrest in Ukraine, relied on NBC’s Richard Engel, then Obama adviser David Axelrod and former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen. Other pieces centered on U.S. governors’ reaction to President Obama and a bill being mulled in Kansas that would sanction spanking. Farrow even tried to suss out whether Alex Wagner had been spanked in her youth.

Farrow’s challenge will be to gain momentum during a time slot that is not known for luring the millennials who might form his natural audience. Ads shown during the program – for Alka-Seltzer, Cialis, Bounty, Bank of America and Geico – suggested an older viewer was peering at the host, who was born in 1987 (to be fair, one spot advertised the new Liam Neeson action flick “Non-Stop,” distributed by MSNBC sister Universal Pictures).  And he will have to do it opposite Wolf Blitzer on CNN and Bill Hemmer and Alisyn Camerota on Fox News Channel.

Even so, his show stands out. The foreign-affairs segment felt more akin to something one might see on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” than MSNBC.  A future segment teased on Monday’s program has the host visiting Kenya, suggesting more travels with Farrow are on tap for the days ahead.

What Farrow studiously avoided was chatter about his family or his connections. Indeed, any time he could have made a personal aside, he instead turned his audience toward Twitter. Farrow is likely to keep the spotlight on the issues and his audience, rather than himself.

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  1. Video Vision says:

    He looks more like Frank than even Frank Jr., Nancy or Tina!

  2. Ilene Rosenberg says:

    How on earth can anyone say he isn’t the spitting image of Sinatra! Especially in the photo supplied with the article.

  3. TJ says:

    If he’s not Sinatra’s kid I’ll eat my hat.

  4. Normandy says:

    he ended two wars,killed our worst enemy-youre quite ignorant on foreign affairs, huh?

  5. I P Standing says:

    Sinatras son is a cute little kid

  6. tericrosschetwood says:

    I wish Ronan all the luck. But a show on MSNBC? That’s a tough break, dude.

  7. Steve In Tulsa says:

    It’s a real shame. His father Frank Sinatra would never have been on a communist promoting broadcast channel. Allen was clearly not his father.

  8. Tim says:

    What a pretty boy. I metrosexual almost boy, but more girly.

  9. Abe Frohman says:

    Dee – he “validates” himself by acknowledging that woody is not his father. By doing this he shines light on the realization that his comments, and his disdain for his alleged father is not only irresponsible for a young man who wants to be in the public eye but it also shines light on truth. I believe without doubt, that he was manipulated his entire life by his mother. If he is Sinatra’s son, then special light needs to be shined on his mother, for manipulating him on his parentage, and for manipulating the courts, and most importantly for manipulating his alleged father, Woody for child support. Now I am not an arbiter of Woody Allen, and I think his hook up with Soon Yi — was BEYOND bad taste, and irresponsible, however, It doesn’t mean Allen ever lied for manipulation purposes.

    By Ronan acknowledging his real father, in some ways will shine a positive light on Woody, and will destroy any credibility that Mia Farrow has in the eyes of the public. This is why the kid will never do it.

    Now when Ronan posts on twitter about Woody, it does nothing for his validity in discussing current topics ( which his show will do) when he cannot recognize his own truth.

    TV journalists all attack subjects with an angle of bias. However,if Ronan wants to be in this business for a long time, (regardless of being a young kid, he is quite bright, and experienced) he needs to qualify himself and his experience. His thoughts and his “angle” will be better quantified if he knows who he really is.

  10. Bob Connors says:

    I waiting to hear him sing: “Strangers in the night .”

  11. Zoe says:

    The ol blue eyes is back?

  12. Mike says:

    That is Frank’s kid.

  13. WillOfThePeople says:

    I’m sure 15 or so people will enjoy the show.

  14. casey says:

    What a pleasant surprise to hear this young man.

  15. ChrisS says:

    I think Ronan did very well. And anyone who thinks he’s not “really” Frank Sinatra’s son, just look as his picture in this story. Same blue eyes, same brow line, same chin. I hope he finally decides to take a DNA test. It’ll further get him away from the Woody Allen mess.

  16. Mike Jones says:

    WHO CARES?!?!

    N ever heard of him before, won’t watch him on TV, I really do not care.

  17. Emma Morrow says:

    So his sister started up her recent Woody-bashing just to help promote this new show?

    Sounds just like MSNBC.

  18. Kristen Hruby says:

    He is the spitting image of Old Blue Eyes

  19. Leezahh says:

    Isn’t it cool that the son of two celebs makes it in show biz? Not on his own merits but simply because sperm met egg. How lovely for this young man.

  20. luv2skico says:

    He looks like Frank Sinatra the same way Chelsea looks like Web Hubbell. In other words, a lot!

    http://tinyurl.com/m62pdlj

  21. Ban says:

    Who cares? This kid’s a tool who’s had all kinds of pampering from 10 sides and he shouldn’t get a free pass in public life because he’s cute and his mommy tells us how brilliant he is. If he wants to prove his worthiness he needs to work for it. So far, with his participation in the two decades long family’s public dirty laundry washing, he’s not doing much to win me, for one, over.

  22. luv2skico says:

    Who cares about what happens on this minor network? It’s like talking about that self absorbed brit, Piers Morgan. No one cares.

  23. YouGotToBeKiddingMe says:

    He is the spitting image of Woody Sinatra.

  24. Wally Lind says:

    Probably worth a look.

  25. amoureux de la vie says:

    There is an “oddness” about him. Strange.

  26. Alana Forsyth says:

    Bottom of face=Frank
    Top of face=Mia
    That’s all.

  27. Helmuth says:

    His first assignment should be to find out who his father is. DNA should make that simple enough. Of course that might expose an inconvenient truth–that his mother ripped off Woody Allen for years and years of child support. But then her credibility could be in question I suppose–and we wouldn’t want that. Better he should keep up the pretense since it helps to damage Woody A.

  28. Tinkerbell says:

    How can he NOT be the son of Frank Sinatra???

  29. Zenny Cellef says:

    He looks just like Woody Allen. I never expected that!

  30. Phyllis M. says:

    He looks a lot like Frank Sinatra.

  31. wakingbeforethefall says:

    Best of luck in your new venture!

  32. Gbout says:

    No such thing as “connections” here. Genetic marvel scores talk show. Looks too much like his mother. Hard to watch.

  33. The Chairman of the Board would approve.

  34. Hank Wershaw says:

    Boring and amateurish..could not watch the whole hour. Thought I was watching a college TV station.

  35. coni says:

    Does anyone care? And if they do why?

  36. Patrick Joos says:

    I think this guy shows allot of promise.

  37. Eric Goldin says:

    Rosemary’s baby lives.

  38. The show was boring and irrelevant. After the initial thrill of seeing a young Frank Sinatra wears off, the show will die along with all the other MSNBC shows. Why does he not come out and just admit who is father is? He must know. He can’t look in the mirror without figuring that out. .

  39. If I were Frank Sinatra’s son, I would avoid Mr. Allen as well.

  40. RJ says:

    OMG does he look like Ole Blue Eyes or what?

  41. Jack Frost says:

    He looks so very much like Frank Sinatra there seems no room fo Mia Farrow genes. Did Frank, well you know….? As for behaving like a functional adult on MSNBC, no way that can last.

  42. KKen says:

    He looks like Frank Sinatra,

  43. tim johnson says:

    soooo, Can he SING?????

    Can he make it here? Can he make it anywhere?
    It’s up to you….
    Imagine the views if he announced he would sing on his next show…..

  44. Mike says:

    That is one handsome dude. Looks like a young Frank Sinatra. ;-)

  45. If Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra had a son, this is what he would look like….

  46. Bob says:

    I’d like to have seen that show… too bad. Something funny below for you all though:

  47. TomLa says:

    This was the biggest publicity stunt I have seen in quite awhile. It was brillant. The people at msnbc may be wrong on most of their veiws but I have to give them 2 gold stars for getting the word out. Outstanding advertising job msnbc.

  48. Sherry Gee says:

    I really like Ronan and I am a conservative. I love it that he is really Frank Sinatra’s son and doesn’t have to be saddled with W. Allen the rest of his life. It is too delicious! I’m going to see what time that show is playing because I never watch MSNBC, but I’ll give it a shot just to see what this young man is about.

    • Luluinhollywood says:

      You do know this weasel no integrity brainwashed kid still CLAIMS to be Woody Allen’s, right??

    • Publicity and marketing are everything today. You can have an empty box, nothing in it, zero product, but if the packaging is sexy, people spend MILLIONS to buy junk. That’s our society today and that explains a lot of the nitwits who currently command attention by other nitwits.

  49. Jane C Frazier says:

    I’m 64 and I enjoyed the show. It was refreshing to see MSNBC do a show that was not 60 minutes of Christy-bashing. I’m a Democrat, so I bash Christy myself, but there’s other news out there and Mr. Farrow gave it to us. Yes, he was a bit nervous, but he’s also very quick and entertaining and this was his first show. I say Bravo!

  50. Susan says:

    You don’t need a DNA test to figure who Ronan, unmistakably, looks like. Or, we could call Ronan Young Blue Eyes.

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