About that new Soledad O’Brien Pilot…
Page Six in its story on CNN looking for something new at 7pm, mentioned that CNN would be shooting a second pilot with Soledad O’Brien. That pilot was shot yesterday in CNN’s studios in the Time Warner Center in New York.
ICN got a pretty detailed breakdown of what happened during this pilot taping and I’m going to share what I can with you because we don’t usually get this kind of peek into the world of the cable news pilot. This information comes mostly un-confirmed. CNN doesn’t comment on pilots but I do have evidence I cannot reveal which does buttress a lot of what I’m about to relay.
The pilot was shot in the Piers Morgan Tonight studio in front of a studio audience that was sort of led to believe that this would be for a special to air at a later date even though this clearly was a pilot. I’m not sure why the studio audience. CNN seems to be much more obsessed with studio audiences than FNC or MSNBC but for what purpose? There wasn’t really any studio audience interaction save for a couple of plants, one of which was a spokesperson for a Republican women’s group.
The format of the show was your typical segment based show with a different topic for each segment:
Segment 1 – Brian Flynn, brother of a man who was killed in the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing talking about Libya and Moussa Koussa’s defection to England.
Segment 2 – Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcom X, discussing the new book on her late father “Malcom X – A Life of Reinvention”.
Segment 3 – Donald Trump via phone in what was easily the highlight segment of the show. O’Brien allegedly went hard at Trump over his Birther allegations and things became rather contentious with both Trump and O’Brien allegedly telling each other that they were wrong and then Trump apparently tried to change the subject to China and O’Brien reportedly countered that China wasn’t the reason people are supporting him in the polls. Hot stuff. The fact that this was a phone interview probably reduced the impact of the interview somewhat but I have to think CNN is a little bummed this interview occurred during a pilot as it easily would have been plastered all over CNN.com and probably would have been picked up by other outlets.
Segment 4 – Kimora Lee Simmons and Dr. Drew Pinsky via satellite talking about padded bikinis, make-up for 8 year olds, and the breastfeeding doll.
Segment 5 – Set change as couches are brought in and the small table and stools that had been on the set previously are removed. O’Brien discussed with two guests on stage and four middle aged royal wedding groupies, who had attended Charles and Diana’s wedding and are going to this one too, why some Americans care and others don’t.
According to reports ICN has received, some segments went over a lot better than others, particularly the Trump interview. But I wouldn’t read too much more into it than that. Cable News pilots, more so than their Entertainment counterparts, are notable for being jagged, rough, and inconsistent. And even when shows go from pilot to launch, they tend to still be jagged, rough, and inconsistent on debut. The question that CNN must answer as it reviews this pilot is whether this format of show, one which sounds eerily similar to one CNN has tried to use numerous times at 8pm the past decade (minus the studio audience), is the right way to go.