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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Piers Morgan Talks With The Hollywood Reporter

Piers Morgan, who joined CNN almost two years ago, has some ideas for how the network can pull itself out of the cable news ratings basement. “We should collectively as a network be more aggressive, more provocative, more debate-y,” he says. Averaging 576,000 viewers, with 175,000 in the 25-to-54 demo for the month of October, Morgan places third behind his 9 p.m. competitors Sean Hannity (Fox News) and Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) but has the most-watched show on the network, beating Anderson Cooper’s 8 p.m. program. Morgan recently has moved away from the single-interview format that he envisioned when his show launched and toward multiple topics and guests with more live shows. “It’ll be crackly, provocative, opinionated,” On Monday, Oct. 30, when Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the East Coast, Piers Morgan Tonight was the top-rated cable news program in the demo, pulling in 1 million viewers 24-54 with 2.4 million overall.

The Hollywood Reporter: What does CNN need to do to be competitive again?
Piers Morgan: There has been a slight timidity internally in not wanting to be provocative or opinionated on air because you could stray into being partisan. If the anchor has taken a position on gun control or abortion, somehow you’re losing that neutrality. I don’t agree. I have become increasingly vocal on my show about these very issues, totally unafraid to say what I think. It’s actually better television if a host says: “You know what I think about abortion? I think it should be down to the women.” What I won’t say is if I’m going to vote for Obama or Romney. The beauty for me is [as a Brit], I can’t.

THR: Do you think Jeff Zucker would make a good leader for CNN?
Morgan: I love Jeff Zucker. I wouldn’t be here without him. He was the boss at NBC Universal. I was under a contract [as host of America’s Got Talent]; everybody had said to him, "Don’t let him go," and, "Why do we want to share our talent with CNN?" And he said: “I get it. This is your dream job, and I’m going to let you do it.” He’s a very capable executive. But I think there are lots of people who could do that job very capably, and it won’t be my decision. I can say with total honesty I have no idea who is going to get the job.

THR: What was your best interview?
Morgan: Probably the Robert Blake interview. I actually have never seen the security guys come onto the studio floor as they did for that. I thought something was going to happen. It was so crazy and yet such compelling television. Then I would say [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad was a very significant one for us because we got the world-exclusive interview when he came here [in September] for the United Nations, and that’s a big deal. And I think the general verdict was I gave him a pretty hard time and got some good stuff out of him and that it was a good bit of combat.

THR: So are you moving away from celebrities hawking something and toward newsmakers?
Morgan: I would not buy stock in the C-list celebrity guests. I think we're interested in big stars or intelligent people, preferably both. I met Gen. David Petraeus, who I'm a huge fan of, at the Vanity Fair White House Correspondents’ Dinner party. And he said: “I really like your show, but I just don't like all the C-list celebrities. Why do you bother with them?” And I didn't really have a good answer. What we should be doing is filling that space with intelligent debate about issues and stories of the day and then saving the celebrity time for people who matter, who are proper stars and have something to say.

This is just a sampling of THR's Q & A with Morgan.  For the entire read follow this link.

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Anonymous said...

I totally nailed it - I knew Piers would be crazy happy with Zucker as his boss. I bet Piers and Erin are pushing hard to make that happen for no other reason than self-preservation. As usual, Piers comes off as a brash, arrogant jerk in this interview. It must be a surprise to him that we don't care about his opinions. His idea for the direction of CNN sounds cheap, sensationalist, and tabloid-y. Isn't that what got CNN in this mess to begin with? Why is Walton and Jauntz still there at this point? CNN needs to make leadership decisions NOW! if they name Zucker as head of worldwide, I will never watch CNN again.

Anonymous said...

Piers Morgan was just speaking with someone from Con ED, chastising him because he "had a week to prepare for this storm," and parts of the city were still in the dark.
This may be news to Piers, because we all know that the Brits have all the answers, BUT meterologists all last week could NOT predict where this storm would do the most damage because it was soooo huge an event. Do you remember last week or are you too far gone?
The only thing bigger than this storm's distruction is your ego and your inability to comprehend human error, the one CNN made by hiring you.

Anonymous said...

I agree.

Zucker would take CNN away from doing real news. He would probably cut back on international coverage.

CNN needs a real experienced journalist in charge.

Someone who has been in the trenches and knows the business.

More news and less entertainment.

Piers and Erin aren't the only ones worried about self-preservation.

The rest of the useless management (Khosravi, Lee, Green, Jautz, Whitaker, Maddox) are looking for a rock to hide under -- worried that the new boss (whoever he is) may question why they have made such lousy decisions in the past.

Anonymous said...

Some clown, it was reported by CNN, threw eggs at a Con Ed tech person.
Now that will help speed the situation.
I don't know who's dumber, Piers Moron or his viewers.

Anonymous said...

Piers Morgan had Rudi Guiliani on
from Ohio.
Of course Guiliani said the President should be in NYC and not campaigning.
That would be great for Romney not to have an opponent in a swing state.
But the former Mayor also went on to say that it wasn't Romney's responsibility to be in NYC to survey the devastation.
Are you kidding me?
This is the guy who spent all his time in Florida last election cycle and couldn't even claim the nomination.
If Mitt wins, and we hope and pray he doesn't, NYC is the economic capital of the world...and I thought I was watching just one Moron.