Fox has named Tom Mazzarelli executive producer of its new national morning program.
Mazzarelli was most recently senior producer at NBC’s Today show, and previously worked as a producer for MSNBC and on CNN’s Larry King Live.
Run-throughs have already begun on the new morning show, which is from Twentieth Television and the Fox Television Stations. Hosted by Fox News personalities Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, the unnamed show launches on Fox owned-and-operated affiliates Jan. 22.
Jerrick and Huddy previously anchored Fox News Channel's DaySide. The new show, to be shot in New York City, will air live 9-10 a.m. in most markets. It's designed to follow the local morning news shows.
According to Kevin Magee, the executive VP of Fox News Channel who's overseeing the program, it will favor entertainment and lifestyle topics over hard news. "It will be lighter than the first hour of Today because that's where people's heads are by 9," he says. "By 9, stations want something bright and fresh that plays to the predominantly female audience."
Magee says the stations don't want an extension of the Fox News Channel. By the end of last week, he was expecting to see diagrams of set designs, which he wants to be "warm and friendly." He also has strong opinions about how the news will be delivered: "It won't be traditional news with two stiff anchors sitting behind an airline-counter desk, preaching the news."
There may be regular contributors, perhaps focusing on health and fitness or relationships. Magee wants live two-ways between local news anchors and Huddy and Jerrick leading into 9 a.m., and is exploring ideas about local cut-ins from 9 to 10.
The hour-long program will be fast-paced. Don't expect much sports or other male-skewing topics, Magee says, and national weather "is a tough sell."
A Website is being designed, and the anchors are assembling video blogs. Tie-ins with News Corp.-owned MySpace are to be determined. On the subject of synergy, Magee acknowledges that the January launch could mean talking about heavy-buzz shows like American Idol and 24: "If Kiefer Sutherland wants to stop by, we'll make room."