CNN Taps ‘King Charles’ in New Bid for Primetime Crown

Gayle King and Charles Barkley are teaming up for ‘King Charles,’ CNN’s new weekly primetime talk show.

via: Variety

The new weekly one-hour program will debut Wednesday, November 29, at 10 p.m., and will be co-anchored by the unlikely duo of Gayle King, who still has her long-running day job at rival CBS News, and Charles Barkley, the outspoken sportscaster who remains a key element in the NBA coverage provided by CNN’s parent, Warner Bros. Discovery. CNN executives are counting on the pair to have freewheeling conversations about the biggest stories in the news cycle. “King Charles” is viewed as a limited-run series that will last at least through the first quarter of next year.

“‘King Charles’ is different than anything we have on CNN’s lineup,” says Amy Entelis, CNN’s executive vice president for talent and content development, in responses to questions provided by email. “It’s not a newscast, but rather a talk show centered around the news stories and cultural moments that Gayle and Charles are most interested in.” CNN declined to make executives or the new anchors available for a direct conversation.

Cable-news success has in the past been built largely around consistency. Viewers come to primetime knowing exactly when their favorite hosts will surface on the schedule. Yet the launch of “King Charles” marks the latest effort by big news networks to shake up audience expectations at a time when their viewership and advertising revenue are under new scrutiny. To keep “King Charles” running on Wednesdays at 10 p.m., CNN will have to pre-empt the program that recently debuted at that time, “CNN NewsNight With Abby Phillip.” MSNBC these days features a Monday-night lineup that sports both Rachel Maddow and Jen Psaki, neither of whom anchor programs on other weeknights. MSNBC also often relies on Maddow and a team of favorite anchors and analysts to take over the primetime schedule when bigger news stories are breaking.

Even Fox News Channel, which kept Bill O’Reilly at 8 p.m. for more than two decades, has been experimenting with new concepts. On a few nights each week, veteran host Sean Hannity has been doing his program in front of a live, in-studio audience — and encourages the crowd to be boisterous before the cameras go on. Fox News’ coverage of events tied to the war between Israel and Hamas even spurred recent pre-emptions of primetime opinion programming by breaking news. Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum co-anchored coverage of an address by President Biden regarding the Israel situation during a recent 8 p.m. hour, normally reserved for conservative host Jesse Watters.

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