Berman, Keiler out on CNN mornings

By Michael P. Hill Article may include affiliate links

CNN is going back to the drawing board — again — for its morning news program.

New Day” will effectively be canceled and replaced with a show featuring a new name, anchors and set, the network announced Sept. 15, 2022.

Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins will take over for current co-anchors John Berman and Brianna Keiler.

“There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy and Kaitlan to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program,” said CEO Chris Licht in a statement. “They are each uniquely intelligent, reliable and compelling; together they have a rare and palpable chemistry. Combined with CNN’s resources and global newsgathering capabilities, we will offer a smart, bold and refreshing way to start the day.

CNN did not set a solid debut date beyond “later” in 2022.

“New Day” launched in 2013 as a pet project of then CEO Jeff Zucker, who had seen huge success with “Today” when he worked at NBC.

It originally featured Chris Cuomo, a former “GMA” personality, Kate Boulduan and Michaela Pereira, the latter whom served as “news anchor.” 

The network spent lavishly on a new set for the show, even moving the set for Piers Morgan’s since-canceled show to another studio so “New Day” could have more space.

The show underwent anchor changes, with Alisyn Camerota replacing Boulduan and Pereira eventually exiting for a Los Angeles based HLN show that was canceled after a short run. 

Cuomo left for a primetime show before being fired in late 2021, and Berman moved into the chair.

Camerota then moved to afternoons, replaced by what many show as up-and-coming star Keilar

However, despite a reboot of the show with new graphics and music, the show has remained stagnant. Keilar frequently anchors the show from Washington, D.C., where she is based, appearing split-screen with Berman in New York, a strategy that makes it difficult for them to interact with each other and also left some wondering why Keilar hadn’t made the move to NYC.

Ratings never improved significantly and typically trails “Fox & Friends” on Fox and “Morning Joe” on MSNBC significantly and well behind ABC and NBC.

Berman and Keiler will remain on “New Day” until the new show debuts and will then assume “other roles” at the network.

Lemon currently anchors “Don Lemon Tonight” at 10 p.m. eastern and it seems likely, he will leave that show simply due to scheduling limitations. Harlow is co-anchor of the network’s 9 to 11 a.m. “CNN Newsroom” block. It was not immediately clear if she will depart that show.

He has also been popping up on major network coverage, including coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death and funeral preparations.

Collins, meanwhile, is currently CNN’s chief White House correspondent. At 29, she’s the youngest person to serve in that role for CNN. CNN did not clarify if she will continue to report from the White House and be based in Washington. 

“I am thrilled to start this new adventure at CNN and work alongside Don and Poppy, two colleagues I deeply admire,” said Collins in the network statement. “To go from sharing my reporting on their shows to sitting at the desk alongside them is an incredible opportunity and I’m deeply humbled by it.”

Lemon and Harlow are based in New York, so it’s possible the show could have them co-anchor from there and have Collins join from Washington, which could bring some key political insight from the nation’s capital while also allowing the network to benefit from still having at least two anchors in the same studio.

“New Day” currently occupies Studio 19Y in 30 Hudson Yards. CNN confirmed the show will get a new set, but it’s not clear where that will be built, though there are several smaller studios created for the now defunct streamer CNN+ that could be leveraged in some way.

The current “New Day” set is a wraparound space with a look that’s similar to the show’s original set from back in 2013. One end of the space was built more for “Cuomo Prime Time” so it’s possible the network could rework that half of the studio for the new morning show without interrupting production.

Like many sets in Hudson Yards, “New Day” has a substantial amount of seamless video walls, so it’s possible that some updates including new surfaces, minor structural updates and other changes could, in combination with updated video wall graphics, create a significantly different new look.

A temporary relocation to Washington could also be possible while work on the set is done, where the network uses an L-shaped video wall installation to simulated the exposed brick and other elements from the New York set using what are essentially virtual set extensions.

Assuming CNN sticks with its plan to launch by the end of 2022, it would be tight, but not impossible, for a new set to be built from the ground up in that time. If it plans to use video walls on it new home, it could prove more challenging to get those manufactured and shipped in time, but there is also the option to reuse panels from another set. In addition, if these plans have been secretly in the works the new set could, at least potentially, already be well into the design process or even fabrication stage.

With Lemon moving to mornings (assuming he gives up “Tonight”) that will leave two holes in CNN’s schedule — the 9 p.m. one vacated by “Cuomo Prime Time” that is anchored by a rotating cost under the name “CNN Tonight” and Lemon’s 10 p.m. time.

Berman has notably filled in across CNN’s primetime, including for Lemon and Anderson Cooper, so it’s possible that’s where he could be headed. 

CNN did not mention any changes to “Early Start,” the program that airs directly before “New Day.”