If we've learned anything from the turmoil at NBC's Today, it's that morning show co-anchors better like each other if they're going to succeed.
Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, the duo that will lead CNN's New Day when it premieres on June 17, appear to have that aspect of the job down. They frequently have lunch or go out for drinks. They attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner together along with her husband. They've worked out at the gym. ("I'd like you to know I can do more pull ups than Chris," Bolduan notes.) Cuomo even helped Bolduan move into her New York apartment. "We organized her clothing racks," he says.
Bolduan, a former CNN congressional correspondent who at 29 will be the youngest network morning show anchor, calls Cuomo "the brother I've always wanted." Cuomo, 42, is embracing the role. "She's got somebody sitting next to her every morning who cares about her and wants to see her do well," he says. "Most of the teams you see on TV, stay on TV. This has been the opposite for me. Everything we've gotten to know about each other has been real."
Cuomo speaks from experience, having served as news anchor on ABC's Good Morning America from 2006 to 2009 when it toiled behind NBC. He's glad to see his old GMA pals ascend to first place and takes no joy in the demise of his former rivals at NBC where ratings woes and backstage drama have Today and its co-anchor Matt Lauer a constant tabloid target. "What's happened at Today is one of the ugly realities of media culture — how people get built up and torn down in a never ending cycle," says Cuomo. "I kind of ignore that as someone who is constantly one step away of being a victim of it."
Michaela Pereira, who will serve as newsreader on New Day, arguably has the strongest track record as a member of a morning TV ensemble, having served as co-host of the top rated local program in Los Angeles on KTLA. She was the first person CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker approached for New Day. Born to a Canadian mother and Jamaican father, Pereira, 42, rounds out a geographically and culturally diverse team that has Bolduan, an Indiana native who grew up hunting duck and pheasant, and Cuomo, the son of a former New York governor and the brother of the current one. While not many details about the show's content were revealed at a Friday press briefing, Jim Murphy, senior executive producer of CNN's morning programming, says New Day will have the same mix of news and lighter moments that audiences have traditionally gravitated to at breakfast time. "Like CNN it will be a newsy morning program," he says. "Unlike CNN it will be looser and a bit more fun."
But it will be awhile before New Day shows up in the rear view mirror of the competition. Morning TV habits are hard to change and previous CNN regimes never made the A.M. hours a top priority. Zucker, once a wunderkind executive producer at Today, is fully aware of the challenge, but says it's one that CNN has to take on as the morning has long been the most lucrative time period for the rest of TV news. "This is the biggest opportunity time period for CNN and it's historically where we've done the least," he says. "You can't have a network like this and not start the day with a strong program."
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- Kate Bolduan