×

Fox News Makes Pitch for Late-Night Crowds

Greg Gutfeld says he doesn’t have much time to watch Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert. But he spends his Saturday-night hour on Fox News Channel offering stuff that’s similar to what they do: quips, jokes, even sketches.

“People say they are interested in a different perspective in terms of popular culture, coming from somewhere that isn’t center left,” says Gutfeld, who hosts the freewheeling “Greg Gutfeld Show” Saturday nights on Fox News Channel. “We provide a perspective that isn’t part of the shared assumptions of late-night TV.”

This Saturday, Fox News will help him make his point, airing a promo that tilts against TV’s late-night crowd by showing that Gutfeld’s program draws a bigger overall audience than most of them.  “Seth Meyers, James Corden, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah – the joke’s on you!” an announcer intones (Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel and John Oliver appear on screen, alongside their aforementioned late-night brethren). The promo contains quotes about Gutfeld’s show from articles that were published earlier this week.

Year to date, Fox News’ “Gutfeld” has secured a bigger average viewership – more than 1.73 million – than any of TV’s late-night offerings except CBS’ “Late Show” and NBC’s “Tonight Show.” And if you suggest a Saturday primetime program isn’t truly a late-night show, then consider the fact that Samantha Bee’s Wednesday-evening “Full Frontal” on TBS has been considered part of the category since its launch in 2016.  To be sure, advertisers prize late-night programs for the young viewers they attract, not necessarily the entire crowd that watches, but CBS has not been shy in the past about touting the fact that its “Late Show” captures more overall viewers than NBC’s “Tonight.” Overall, viewers t “Gutfeld” have increased 7% year to date.

“There’s no question the two Jimmys are super-talented,” says Gutfeld of Fallon and Kimmel, but he thinks he’s got some of what they have to offer – with a twist. One of his show’s signature bits has been a series of spoof pharmaceutical ads that offer prescriptions for various fake maladies. One of them, “Demotrex,” promised a cure for “Democrats who over-promise and under-deliver.”

Fox News’ night-owl pitch comes after the Fox Corp.-owned cable-news outlet made a broader appeal to Madison Avenue. In recent positioning, the network reminded media buyers that its audience is wide and can be found across the nation, not just in so-called “red states.” The initiative to capture fans of late-night satire takes place as many of TV’s best-known hosts have gained broader traction by poking fun at – and in some cases, taking a strong antagonistic stance – against President Trump. The Trump presidency has lent a big boost to CBS’ Colbert, for example, and provided nightly fodder for NBC’s Seth Meyers.

This isn’t necessarily where Gutfeld thought he would be several years ago, when he was working as an editor at magazines like Prevention, Men’s Health and Stuff. “Editorial meetings were what trained me to be good at having fun conversations,” he says. After gaining some level of notoriety for hiring a group of little people to demonstrate to attendees at a magazine-industry convention how to generate buzz by being loud and annoying (the host describes himself as “a wise-ass who fails upward”),  Gutfeld found his way to one of Fox News’ more interesting programming experiments – a dead-of-night panel program called “Red Eye” that Gutfeld describes as being “put together like a drunk would put together a sandwich at 3 A.M. – whatever is in the fridge.”

But his style clearly impressed other executives at the network. He was placed on one of Fox News’ most durable programs, “The Five,” in 2011. One of the bedrock elements of the show has been Gutfeld’s interaction with co-host Dana Perino, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott told Variety earlier this year. During a pilot, Scott and other Fox News programmers could not help but notice their natural chemistry, Scott said. “He’s incredibly clever and funny and she’s sort of the straight smart one.”

Gutfeld says the key to both his Saturday program and “The Five” is “an ability to make fun of each other and to make fun of ourselves.” And while he’s prone to make references to all sorts of pop-cultural artifacts from the past, he knows he has to keep his audience leaning forward and laughing. “We are not making an art film,” he quips. “If I get too abstract, I have to pull myself back in.”

 

 

More TV

  • TV News Roundup: Angelyne Signs on

    TV News Roundup: Angelyne Signs on to Produce Eponymous Peacock Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, Peacock’s limited series “Angelyne” got the titular woman as an executive producer, and Netflix announced premiere dates for “Ugly Delicious” and “Unorthodox.” DATES Netflix announced the premiere dates of new and returning shows coming this March: “Ugly Delicious” Season 2 is premiering March 6; “Marc Maron: End Times Fun” will launch March [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Nevada Democratic Debate Online

    The ninth Democratic presidential debate will take place Wednesday as six hopeful candidates take the stage ahead of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 22. NBC and MSNBC will broadcast the debate on their networks from 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. PT/ 10 p.m. ET. Those wanting to tune in can also [...]

  • James Wolk

    James Wolk to Star in NBC Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe'

    James Wolk has been cast in the lead role of the NBC drama pilot “Ordinary Joe,” Variety has learned. The project explores the three parallel lives of Joe Kimbrough (Wolk) after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you made your [...]

  • HBO Max Orders Comedy Pilot 'Minx'

    HBO Max Orders Erotic Magazine Comedy Pilot From Ellen Rapoport, Paul Feig

    HBO Max has given out a pilot order to the comedy “Minx,” Variety has learned. The half-hour project is set in 1970s Los Angeles, in which an earnest young feminist joins forces with a low-rent publisher to create the first erotic magazine for women. Ellen Rapoport is attached to write and executive produce. Paul Feig and [...]

  • Keegan Allen Walker CW

    Keegan Allen Boards 'Walker, Texas Ranger' Reboot at CW (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Pretty Little Liars” alum Keegan Allen has joined the cast of “Walker,” The CW’s upcoming reboot of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” Variety has learned exclusively. He joins previously announced stars Jared Padalecki and Lindsey Morgan. Padalecki stars as Cordell Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, who returns home to Austin [...]

  • Bethenny Frankel arrives at the 71st

    Bethenny Frankel Sets Business Competition Series at HBO Max

    Bethenny Frankel is coming to HBO Max with an unscripted competition series. The “Real Housewives of New York” alum has scored an eight-episode order at the nascent streamer for “The Big Shot With Bethenny.” In the half-hour series, aspiring moguls will compete for a chance to win a spot on the executive team of Frankel’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content