Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Minneapolis Months after announcing that he would soon get his own nightly cable show on MSNBC, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has yet to hit the airwaves on a regular basis.
The former pro wrestler and Hollywood action star has denied rumors that his show, announced in February, is in trouble. But MSNBC does not expect it to debut until late summer or early fall, and the lengthy rehearsal time has led to speculation that it might never make it onto the air.
MSNBC President Erik Sorenson insisted that the cable channel was committed to Ventura and called the show's development "right on schedule."
"We believe the final product, when people see it, not everyone's going to love it, but people are going to say, 'Hey, that is different. That is distinctive.' You know, you don't do that overnight," Sorenson said in an interview last week.
Ventura's show is intended as a nightly topical talk show. MSNBC has eased Ventura into its schedule with short "Hero of the Week" segments during the "Lester Holt Live" show.
Elected governor in 1998, Ventura was host of a weekly radio show during his four years in office and was a TV commentator for the short-lived XFL football league.
Ventura said in February that the show would air in about a month, and the initial delay was blamed on the war in Iraq. Last month, Ventura said the show probably would be on the air around June 1.
The hourlong show will probably air at 8 p.m. weeknights, Sorenson said, against heavy competition from CNN's "Larry King Live" and Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes."
"There's not going to be a short-term ratings victory there. I do think that in the long run, Jesse is going to attract a lot of viewers, and I think he has a bunch of assets," Sorenson said.
Ventura, who MSNBC said was not giving interviews, may have only a short time to prove himself.
MSNBC, which is in third place in prime-time cable news ratings, has a reputation for being quick to cancel programs, said consultant Andrew Tyndall, whose Tyndall Report monitors television network news.