The network on Thursday unveiled a new marquee morning program that will debut later this year, anchored by stars Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins.
“New Day” anchors John Berman and Brianna Keilar will continue to anchor their show until the new program debuts. They will then be assigned new anchor roles at the network, CNN said.
The major programming shake-up was announced by CNN chief executive Chris Licht, who took over as head of the network in May.
In recent weeks, Licht has started to put his stamp on the network’s programming, with the announcement of the new morning show his most signifiant move to date.
Morning shows have been a forte for Licht throughout his career. Prior to joining CNN, Licht created MSNBC’s popular “Morning Joe” and revitalized “CBS This Morning.”
“There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy and Kaitlan to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program,” Licht said in a press release.
“They are each uniquely intelligent, reliable and compelling; together they have a rare and palpable chemistry,” Licht added. “Combined with CNN’s resources and global newsgathering capabilities, we will offer a smart, bold and refreshing way to start the day.”
In a memo to staffers, Licht acknowledged that the overhaul of the morning show “will spark a number of questions” that can’t all be addressed in a single note. But Licht sought to answer the major ones, telling employees that the “New Day” team will “continue to produce the morning show” and reiterating Keilar and Berman will be given new anchor roles.
“The next chapter of CNN is beginning to shape,” Licht said. “I am sure there are many questions not answered in this note. We’ll be communicating as much as we can as we refine specifics and ensure this transition is a thorough and inclusive process.”
Lemon, whose show “Don Lemon Tonight” will come to an end as a result of the move, described the last eight years in prime time as an “incredible ride.” But, he said, it was “time to shake things up.”
“I am so appreciative of the ‘Don Lemon Tonight’ team, my wonderful, loyal viewers and everyone who has believed in me,” Lemon said in a press release. “I was honestly floored when Chris Licht asked me to do this and I’m honored by his belief in me. It’s going to be a thrill to take on this challenge with Poppy and Kaitlan.”
A CNN spokesperson said that the network will announce new programming that will replace Lemon’s current show later this year.
Harlow, who currently co-anchors the 9am-11am hours and recently completed Yale’s Master of Studies in Law degree program, described Lemon as one of her “closest friends for more than a decade” and said she was grateful for the opportunity.
“What a gift to be able to sit beside Don and Kaitlan each morning,” Harlow said.
Collins, who has served as chief White House correspondent since the start of the Biden administration, said she was “thrilled to start this new adventure” and assume the new role of co-anchor and chief correspondent for the revamped morning show.
It was not immediately clear who, if anyone, will fill her position as chief White House correspondent when she vacates the role. A CNN spokesperson said the network will announce changes at the White House soon.