Don Lemon often uses his late-night show on CNN to get a little heated about the newsiest topics of the day. He may get even more latitude to discuss them online.
Lemon will host “The Don Lemon Show” on CNN Plus, the soon-to-launch subscription-video hub. CNN bills the new program as a weekly effort that will feature both the host and a studio audience and “no limits to the conversation.”
The move suggests CNN is continuing to invest heavily in its new venue. Backing a show with a studio audience adds new costs to production, and CNN has already ramped up hiring for the project, assigning new roles to journalists like Kasie Hunt and Chris Wallace, and commissioning a limited-run documentary series with Eva Longoria. Other CNN anchors are also launching new programs, but Lemon’s talk show is likely to require additional personnel beyond the scope of other projects for the service.
In prepared remarks, Lemon suggested the new program would bear some similarity to popular daytime talk shows of the past. “I’ve been enamored by talk shows since I was a child. I’d hide the remote and made my siblings watch Johnny Carson. I wanted to be him,” said Lemon, in a statement. “And then I discovered Phil Donahue and it all clicked. ‘Caller, you’re on the air.’ A talk show centered around news, current events and everyday provocative topics – I watched every single day! Same with Oprah. Time now for this generation’s version of that great tradition. This is my opportunity to dig deeply into the topics I’m passionate about and not limited to the news of the day.”
Lemon has gained noticeable traction since moving to CNN’s primetime lineup in 2014 after spending time as one of the WarnerMedia network’s weekend anchors. During his run on “Don Lemon Tonight,” he has injected some of the drama of daytime talk into what was once a more staid news presentation on CNN. Lemon’s program wins more viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers, than his competitors at MSNBC at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Even so, both Fox News Channel and MSNBC bring more viewers overall during those hours.