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'New Day': CNN's Latest Attempt To Make Mornings Work

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CHRIS CUOMO CNN
AP

There is lots of debate about CNN's newest ongoing reinvention, but one thing everyone seemingly agrees on is that the network hasn't figured out a successful morning show format for years.

"New Day" is the network's latest attempt to get it right, and, in interviews with The Huffington Post, anchors Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira insisted that, at long last, the magic formula has been found.

The program is slated to debut June 17. It follows "Starting Point," which was canceled after little more than a year on air, and "American Morning," which had floundered in the ratings.

Speaking on Wednesday, Cuomo was reluctant to say what he thought CNN had been doing wrong in the past. "I'm trying not to look at it too much because what I’ve learned about morning television and television in general is that it is easy to criticize what's on television and why it doesn’t work but it's harder to fix," he said.

Cuomo — who came to CNN from ABC News earlier this year, and was the newsreader on "Good Morning America" for three years — said that one thing that "New Day" does have on its side going forward is a strong commitment from CNN president Jeff Zucker, who he said has made the show a "priority" as he presides over an overhaul of the network.

That is a sentiment that former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien did not express about "Starting Point." Looking back on the show after it was canceled, she told HuffPost, "We did not get a lot of promotion. We did not get a lot of marketing. We weren't fully staffed."

"New Day" co-host Bolduan said Wednesday that she could not speak to O'Brien's experience, but pointed to ads and other promos for "New Day" as evidence of what she called support "inside and outside" of the network for the show.

Michaela Pereira added that CNN "searched far and wide" to assemble the three anchors, and said Zucker was "instrumental" in choosing each of them. "He talks about the fact that it takes a while for this kind of thing to gel, and that he’s committed to it," she said about Zucker, echoing his earlier comments that he does not expect the show to soar to the top of the ratings on the first day.

Bolduan said that the show would not only have a different cast, but would feature the "chemistry" between the anchors more prominently than on "Starting Point," in playful banter and conversation during the latter hours. The show’s discussion, she said, would also extend beyond politics “because that’s not all viewers want in the morning.”

Cuomo also described "New Day" as a "pure news show," saying that it would feature "intelligent reporting" and take advantage of the "assets" that he said CNN is known for.

Breaking news coverage has been CNN’s bread and butter — as was evident in its ratings win during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombings suspects. One of CNN's biggest difficulties then has been sustaining its ratings during times when there are no big, breaking news stories.

It is a factor that the staff at "New Day" seems to be considering. When asked what the anchors are working on now, three weeks before the debut, Cuomo said, "We’re trying to come up with standalone features that will give us an opportunity to program the show when there’s not a huge story falling on our heads.” Bolduan added that one of the show's tasks in addressing that challenge will be to find "more content" to cover. "There’s a lot of news out there that people might not get in the headlines," she said.

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