Since NBC News announced it was launching a new primetime newsmagazine in May, Rock Center With Brian Williams has already recruited the likes of Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Ted Koppel, Meredith Vieira and Natalie Morales, but Williams says there are more names to come.
“I’m not done,” he said on a conference call with press Monday. “There are still some people on the whiteboard in my head who are out there I think could really turn some heads.”
While Williams declined to go into specific names, NBC News President Steve Capus said he is well aware of Williams’ wish list, and that besides the regular correspondents, Rock Center will be open to contributions from everyone within NBC News.
“That already differentiates us from some of the other news divisions out there,” he said.
Executive producer Rome Hartman said another signature of Rock Center is that it will be broadcast live.
“When news breaks that is worth our attention, we’re on it,” he said. “It also brings us an energy. I think it’s going to be palpable.”
He also said that of the two to three magazine-length stories each hour, one will be more topical, likely having been put into production within the last week. That will differentiate Rock Center from a documentary-style show like Dateline, whose hour-long pieces take much longer to produce.
“This is not a newscast, it’s a newsmagazine,” said senior EP David Corvo. “But it has the opportunity to be more timely than an hour-long documentary-style show.”
While Hartman had previously suggested that the true-crime, scandal of the week stories would be left to sister newsmagazine Dateline, he did acknowledge that Rock Center would consider touching on such newsmakers as Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox, albeit smartly.
“I don’t want to rule any stories out. If there’s a smart way of doing any story, we’ll do it,” he said. “We’re not dealing in categories, we’re dealing in stories.”
While Rock Center is slipping into the time period vacated by the canceled Playboy Club, Capus was quick to state that there are no ratings benchmarks for success of the program from Comcast brass. And regardless of the ratings, Rock Center will be ceding its Monday at 10 p.m. timeslot to midseason drama Smash in February, when it will relocate to another night.
“We’re not doing this as a ratings play,” Capus said. “We’re not kidding ourselves, we know it’s going to take some time to get established.”
Rock Center premieres on Monday, Oct. 31 at 10 p.m., Halloween night, and Williams for one is hoping parents will tune in after raiding their children’s candy buckets.
“We are counting on that post-candy euphoria,” Williams said in his signature deadpan wit. “We’re counting on people who need a good hour-long sit-down.”