CNN's new 7 p.m. program, John King, USA,
is getting an online tryout ahead of its March 22 debut. CNN.com will stream a dress rehearsal of the show tomorrow, March 19 at 12 p.m. ET. During the
program, host John King will solicit feedback from viewers, which could in turn affect
the show's format.
"I am hoping that it influences both our content and our
conversation," Michelle Jaconi, the executive producer of John King, USA told B&C.
Jaconi says viewers will be able to view four different
feeds, including two in-studio cameras, a camera in the green room and a view
from the famous "magic wall." They will be able to give feedback via Twitter, Facebook Connect, email, text message or even the phone.
Despite being online, the show will feature top level
guests, including FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who will use the magic wall
to explain the national broadband plan, and Texas congressman Ron Paul.
It will also feature a focus group consisting of Redstate.com
blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson, FireDogLake blogger and CNN
contributor Jane Hamsher and actress and comedian Aisha Tyler.
After the run-through is over, King will go to the green room,
where he will do a post-mortem, and discuss what viewers did and did not like
about the show's format.
Even after the show launches on the network Monday, input
from viewers will continue to change the way the show is produced.
"One of the hallmarks of producing good television is
respecting your audience," Jaconi says. "I have learned that the American people
aren't shy about expressing their opinions, especially online."
Most new television shows tape private or
semi-private dress rehearsals before going on air. It allows the hosts, writers
and staff to get a feel for its format and tone before going live in front of
(potentially) millions of viewers.
But with the Internet nearly ubiquitous in the U.S., another
option is to test material out online before a show launches, giving producers
some viewer feedback they wouldn't get during a typical dress rehearsal.
While not a news program, one of the most prominent examples
was Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, whichlaunched online a few months before it
debuted on NBC in the form of short vignettes and video blogs.