With its reputation as a morning show focused on hard news, “CBS This Morning” might seem an unlikely candidate to take to CBS’ Friday-night broadcast of the Hollywood Film Awards, And yet, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell will be present at the event in the hopes of asking the celebrity winners something more serious than which designer’s clothes they chose.
King is slated to host a pre-show event (with Mo Rocca of “CBS Sunday Morning”) on CBS while both she and O’Donnell will interview attendees in the 10 p.m. hour – one of the first times the “CBS This Morning” crew has made the journey to primetime in this non-traditional fashion. CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler reached out to CBS News President David Rhodes in hopes of securing “a classy, interview-driven show” to air after the awards programming wrapped, explained Ryan Kadro, senior broadcast producer of “CBS This Morning.”
“They will be live, with a pretty cool set-up,” said Kadro. “There’s just one way out of the [Hollywood] Palladium: All 600 people attending that night are going to have to walk by our anchor position.”
The prime-time appearance marks another flash, of sorts, that TV networks want to capture some of the sunlight from their morning-show franchises and sprinkle it on other parts of their schedule. With several morning shows notching audience gains as evening-news program endure gradual attrition, it is the morning anchors who are being called upon to serve as hosts for other current events.
ABC News recently named George Stephanopoulos its “chief anchor,” the person who viewers should expect to see when crisis-level news or other matters of national or global import breaks out – a sign that Americans may feel more connected to the people who host TV’s morning franchises than the folks who hold forth during early evening newscasts. Another case in point: “Today” co-anchors Natalie Morales and Willie Geist hosted Discovery Channel’s recent primetime broadcast of Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walks over the city of Chicago.
The Hollywood Film Awards, which recognize “excellence in the art of cinema and film-making,” have been viewed skeptically in the past The kudos are the brainchild of entrepreneur Carlos de Abreu and are based on the selections of a revolving committee of 12 entertainment-industry insiders. There have not been nominee announcements in the past, and recent HFA winners have included movies that had yet to appear in theaters at the time of their victory.
Awards properties have become more important to TV networks, who view them as live “spectaculars” that can attract the broader audiences advertisers covet. ABC has notched higher prices for advertising in its Oscars broadcasts in recent years. The Disney-owned network has sought $1.9 million for each 30-second spot in its scheduled 2015 broadcast of the event. CBS, meantime, has made more of an event out of its annual Grammys telecast and later this year will broadcast a holiday special related to the event.
The CBS morning crew will work to balance the need to appeal to a broad audience in primetime with the need to stick to their show’s roots as one of the least frilly AM-news options. “When Gayle and I first talked about this special show, the first thing she talked about was, ‘I don’t want to ask what people are wearing. I really want to come at this from a new way,’” Kadro said. King and her producers have “spent a lot of time here coming up with different ways to really freshen up what’s done on the red carpets.”
King will not be wide-eyed when she interviews celebrities, said Kadro. She is a longtime confidante of Oprah Winfrey and may feel more comfortable among the uber-famous than other TV journalists.”There’s a familiarity,” he said, while noting King takes preparing for interviews quite seriously. King and O’Donnell will be accompanied by pre-taped segments and interviews, and the third member of the “CBS This Morning” on-air team, Charlie Rose, will appear in some of those, Kadro said.
Will “CBS This Morning” show up in evening again any time soon? Kadro said future appearances after 8 p.m. are always possible, but noted “We are totally focused on the morning,” where executives truly want to see the show take the number-two spot.