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2008 Conventions

Live Chat with Rachel Maddow

Ask Rachel Maddow…

RNC Logo7.pngWe’ll be hosting a live chat with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this afternoon at 3:30pmET. Send your questions to or just come on back to TVNewser at 3:30pmET to join in on the conversation.

Maddow’s new show premieres on MSNBC Monday night at 9pmET.

Brian, Charlie, Katie To Make the Morning Rounds After Their Evening Shows


TVNewser has learned that after they finish their broadcasts at 7pmET tonight (barring breaking news), Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams will speak with anchors from the three broadcast morning shows to promote Friday’s Stand up to Cancer event.

We hear Robin Roberts of ABC, Maggie Rodriguez of CBS, and Meredith Vieira of NBC will conduct the interviews with the three evening anchors. The interviews will happen on the CBS platform in the Xcel Center. And TVNewser will be there. The segments are expected to air on the morning shows tomorrow.

In May it as announced that Couric, Gibson and Williams would all take part in the event which will feature live performances by recording artists and movie stars bringing awareness to cancer research.

The three anchors will all depart Minneapolis Friday and travel to Los Angeles for the event which will be simulcast on ABC, CBS and NBC at 8pmET/PT.

So, Who’s Going to Get the Sarah Palin Interview? Meredith Vieira Hopes She Does

RNC Logo6.pngIt may have taken more than a year, but Today show co-anchor Meredith Vieira tells TVNewser, ‘America’s First Family’ has jelled and is now running at full steam. “Last November it all came together,” Vieira says of the nation’s #1 morning show.

We caught up with Vieira after this morning’s broadcast which included a well-timed interruption about 30 feet from the Today show set:

Maggie Rodriguez’s “Larger than Life” RNC Experience

RNC Logo5.pngTVNewser caught up with CBS Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez this morning. We chatted a bit between segments of this morning’s show.

After the show, we sat down and talked about covering her first convention, this increasingly active hurricane season, and her rise and crossover from Spanish language TV to anchoring CBS’s network morning newscast.

CNN Hotspot is More Than Just A Grill

RNC Logo4.pngA few weeks after the announcement that St. Paul would host the 2008 Republican National Convention, CNN had secured a deal to take over a restaurant adjacent to the Xcel Center. Just like Brooklyn’s in Denver last week, the Eagle Street Grill in downtown St. Paul was transformed into the CNN Grill, a restaurant that is more marketing vehicle that culinary destination (although the food is really good).

Scot Safon EVP and chief marketing officer for CNN Worldwide says the concept began in New York at the 2004 RNC as a way to combine various CNN entities under one roof. “Production wanted to do shows, ad sales wanted to do lunches with advertisers, affiliate relations…and talent…everybody wanted some piece of it,” says the six-year CNN veteran.

CNNGrill_9.2.jpgThe Grill is a working restaurant with breakfast and lunch/dinner menus from New York restaurateur Danny Meyer. And when CNN took over, they really took over. The walls were painted CNN red; there are 18 different pieces of neon art, “destination signs,” Safon calls them, emblazoned with the CNN logo; and there are more TV monitors than even the best sports bar of this size should be allowed to have, including a 32″ monitor in the one-stall bathroom.

When it’s all over, the TVs will come down and the neon goes back to CNN offices in Atlanta, New York and Washington to be used in employee areas.

Even though it might have meant a loss of business, Safon says the restaurant owners in Denver and St. Paul were receptive to the idea. Without discussing what CNN paid the owners, Safon says, “We gave them their business for this time, we’re hiring a lot of their staff, and they recognize that it was a public relations opportunity for them.”

As for CNN, there’s money to be saved. Safon says if the many CNN parts had gone off and booked multiple venues it would have cost “a good half a million dollars more than we wanted to spend, in both cities.”

And parked outside the grill, the CNN Election Express Bus. TVNewser got a tour Tuesday afternoon…

Click continued to see Part II…

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Cynthia McFadden’s First Time

RNC Logo3.pngShe’s covered campaigns, but never a convention. Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden talks with TVNewser about her RNC expectations and what stories Nightline is covering this week.

And she is very candid about the uncertain future of Nightline on the ABC schedule: “I hope the people who make these difficult decisions think we should hang around.”

Convention Bites: Day #2

Philip Alongi Jr., son of NBC News convention coverage executive producer Phil Alongi, is singing the National Anthem tonight at the start of this evening’s session.

• According to preliminary numbers, CBS News’ prime time Hurricane/RNC special anchored by Katie Couric in New Orleans, finished first in New York City, ahead of NBC’s Dateline and ABC’s 20/20. The Couric special finished #2 in the metered markets.

• FNC anchors Bret Baier, Brit Hume and Megyn Kelly took a trip to the Mall of America earlier this week, and Kelly showed the picture of the trio this morning riding the roller coaster.


On the Floor, With a Democrat (Okay, Independent) Among Them

RNC Logo2.pngWe took a walk over to the Xcel Center this afternoon to give you a tour of the media positions for the Republican National Convention. The floor was empty of delegates but there was plenty of press, mostly local stations who’ve sent crews here. We met an anchor from the Fox affiliate in Rochester, MN who is working as a one man band. She is shooting her material, while a co-worker who is also an anchor at the NBC/Fox duopoly is shooting her stand up. The two will then drive back to Rochester to edit their stories and anchor their newscasts.

Below is a tour of where the broadcasters and cable networks have their live positions. After the jump, see who else we spotted on the podium of the Xcel Center…

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Anchor Movement: Network News to St. Paul, Keith Stays in NY

olbermann_9-2.JPGAs insiders predicted last night in St. Paul, anchors are beginning the trip back from the Gulf Coast region to the RNC as coverage shifts away from Gustav.

The three evening news anchors, CBS’ Katie Couric, ABC’s Charlie Gibson and NBC’s Brian Williams, will be back tonight broadcasting from St. Paul.

One person not returning from his Hurricane Gustav coverage location will be MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. Olbermann led coverage last night from New York, and will now co-anchor prime time convention coverage from MSNBC HQ with Chris Matthews at the RNC.

An MSNBC spokesperson tells TVNewser, “Since the next hurricane may hit on Thursday night, Keith will remain in New York. But, he’ll co-anchor with Chris who will be on our Rice Park set.”

Related: “An equitable split for Olbermann, Matthews