Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Pasadena, Calif. Problems? What problems?
Despite the critical thrashing Connie Chung's nightly CNN show has taken in its first three weeks ï¿½ complaints about everything from tabloid content to the screaming orange color scheme to the veteran anchorwoman's unexpected tentativeness ï¿½ she and her bosses insist everything is ducky.
"We think she's doing a terrific job," Teya Ryan, executive vice president and general manager of CNN/U.S., told a roomful of reporters at a news conference Friday. She said she didn't foresee any major format changes for "Connie Chung Tonight," such as using more taped segments to get around what critics have perceived as Chung's discomfort with live interviewing.
"Connie is able to take breaking news throughout the afternoon and do a live magazine show based on that day's breaking news," added Ryan's boss, CNN News Group chairman and CEO Walter Isaacson. "I'm really proud of it journalistically and everything else. I'll let Teya worry out the orange, but other than that, it's a cool show."
Chung, for her part, entered the lion's den looking almost as cool as her pale yellow blazer. She acknowledged that she hadn't felt like herself the first couple of nights but made the necessary corrections after her husband, talk show host Maury Povich, told her to "remember to enjoy what you're doing." She said she feels "very close to doing the program we want to do. We need still to experiment here and there, but for the most part we're doing the program we wanted to do.
"We take a breaking news story - a major or THE major story of the day ï¿½ and we try to get a principal person in that story to do an interview.
"Basically the approach is not unlike what I was doing for a long time in magazine work. Which is, you take one person and tell that person's story, and that person's story then explains the greater issue." Another comment she made may explain why she's come off looking hesitant or under-prepared on CNN. "In magazine work that I was doing, we would do interviews for two hours at a time (and then edit)," she said. "Now we have a defined amount of time that we want to spend with an interviewee, and it takes selectivity."