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Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Semel’

From “Best Political Team” To a “King of Comedy”

hughley_11-10.jpgThree days after TVNewser was in the CNN Election Center studio on Election Night, we were back in a drastically changed environment. Gone were the BPTOT, in was a studio audience. Temporary walls blocked off the studio from the rest of the newsroom. And the man at the helm was not anchor Wolf Blitzer but an Original King of Comedy.

D.L. Hughley Breaks the News is CNN’s newest, and most unique, programming. The 10pmET show airs Saturday and Sunday, and moves between serious interviews and lighter ones, comedy sketches and more serious monologues by Hughley.

During Friday’s taping, the usual exit poll location for Soledad O’Brien and Bill Schneider was replaced with a green screen and an actor dressed as George Washington for a fake hologram segment. Interviews ranged from a group of Kenyan comedians, to actor/comedian Tim Reid to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Within the interviews there were serious and comedy elements — amid Jackson, Jr.’s answer about how he’d be “honored” to named Pres.-Elect Barack Obama‘s replacement for U.S. Senate, he joked, “I’m willing to bet I’m one of the few United States Senators, if appointed, to ever be willing to even do your show!”

hughleyshow_11-10.BMPThe show is taped in segments, which leads to a portion of downtime. Comedian Corwin Moore warms up the crowd between blocks. “It’s bizarre, but its fun and exciting,” he says of working on the CNN show. “It’s not one thing for me. I’m just amazed to see his face on the monitor.”

Hughley, who called Tuesday’s election “the most emotional thing I’ve ever been a part of,” is relishing the opportunity. “I enjoy it a lot. As long as people are watching we’re going to keep doing it,” he said.

And people are. The show regularly gets more than 600,000 viewers in the A25-54 demo and 1.4 million Total Viewers, putting it in competition on a nightly basis as the top prime time weekend program.

“For an organization not build to do a comedy show, CNN has been fantastic,” says the show’s EP, Mitch Semel.

It does have its critics as well, with some saying it “reinforces black stereotypes.” Semel says it’s not for everyone. “Good comedy doesn’t do that,” he said. “It’s very much like him doing his act on stage. Just remember, it’s a comedy show.”

(pictured top right: comedian/actor Donnell Rawlings (who appears on the show), Hughley and stage manager Bruce)

Click continued to see the interview with Jackson, Jr. from last weekend’s show…

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Mitch Semel at “The Intersection of News and Comedy”

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Semel_10.21.jpgCNN’s first foray into funny is no joke, Mitch Semel says.

“This is our opportunity to treat news differently,” says Semel, executive producer of “D.L. Hughley Breaks the News.” “It’s just an hour a week. It doesn’t change what the network is.”

“Hughley” debuts at 10pmET Saturday. Produced on the set of “American Morning,” it will feature a monologue, studio audience, newsmaker guests, field pieces and interviews with such CNN correspondents as Ali Velshi (business) and Sanjay Gupta (health.)

No band. No sidekick. No couch.

“Hughley” will be taped Thursday afternoons, but it can accommodate late-breaking news, Semel says. Being weekly will not hurt the show’s topicality, he adds.

DLHughley_10.21.jpgBill Maher and ‘Saturday Night Live’ have handled it through the years. Obviously, there’s enough material during the course of a week to be funny. It lets you step back and not get caught up in the day-to-day urgency.”

Hughley, 45, a frequent guest on HBO’s “Politically Incorrect,” will surprise many viewers, according to Semel.

“A lot of them know him as a comedian. They may not be aware of him as a smart, serious guy. He’s up on his facts. He’s provocative. He’s also effortlessly funny.”

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Comedian DL Hughley to Get CNN Show

A TVNewser emailer tipped us off yesterday morning that comedian DL Hughley was going to get his own show on CNN. After several attempts to contact CNN PR yesterday for comfirmation, we got almost no response back, unless you count PR types pushing the tip off to one another. So, Variety has the story today.

Mitch Semel, who was brought in last year to create Campbell Brown‘s show, only to be moved to a development job five months later, is the exec in charge of Hughley’s show.

> Update: The press release is after the jump…

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