CNN “Piers Morgan Tonight” EP Jonathan Wald speaks to B&C’s Andrea Morabito about the program, as well as CBS’ upcoming morning show revamp (subscription required). Among other things, Wald revealed who his surprising choice would be for a permanent guest-host:
Do you think you might eventually have a permanent guest host? Who might fill that role?
I actually thought Chelsea Handler did such a great job; she’d be ideal, although the sexual tension and the electricity in the air when she was on was matched only by Al Roker [on Dec. 5].
Will Piers travel to London for the Olympics this summer?
We’re talking about that, nothing has been decided yet.
You’re a former Today show producer, and CNN and CBS are launching new morning shows next year that are backing off the idea of trying to copy Today. Is that a good strategy?
I think that viewers don’t respond necessarily to formats, and that anybody who focuses on just what the format of a show is, is destined to keep thinking about formats. The real success of the Today show and any successful television show is the show knows what it is and there’s a sense about it that anything can happen. And that is certainly the case at theToday show and it always has been and I think it’s baked into the walls there and it’s in the bloodstream of everybody who works on it. As far as all the changes going on, I think that’s what should happen and that’s what always happens. People change and ratings go up and ratings go down but people don’t tune in for formats, they tune in for people. The heart of it is who’s on TV.
So in that line of thinking, can you put people like Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on CBS, as has been rumored, and have it work just as well as Morning Joe?
I think it’s always a combination of people and story selection. You’re sort of defined by the stuff that you talk about, and it’s always a challenge to pick the right stories and I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that and Piers has a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn’t work and the morning is just a little earlier, that’s all.