Stephen Colbert called out Trump for focusing on comedians rather than focusing on the coronavirus pandemic.
Greg Gutfeld is taking his Fox News Channel talk show from Saturdays to a high-profile weeknight perch, serving as a lighter, more satirical chaser for the cable network’s pugnacious opinion lineup.
In the process, “Gutfeld!,” a new name for a show that will feature some new elements, offers a more conservative alternative to the mix of late-night TV talk shows.
Libertarian-leaning Gutfeld hopes the hourlong show (Monday, 11 EDT/8 PDT) can “draft” like a cyclist off the ratings of shows hosted by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
“I’m going to be living in their universe, talking about the same stuff but with different people and a different perspective and maybe a more subversive or surprising way of doing it,” Gutfeld says.
Greg Gutfeld will host the Fox News Channel late-night show, ‘Gutfeld!,’ starting April 5. (Photo: Fox News Channel)
He will try to carve out his own late-night territory against hosts he says are fighting over liberal terrain. Then-President Donald Trump praised Gutfeld in a tweet last May in which he criticized Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, now the Fox News host’s competitors.
“They share similar (political) assumptions I don’t share,” says Gutfeld, a “massive fan” of David Letterman’s NBC years who thinks Bill Maher is “doing a great job” on “cancel culture” on HBO’s “Real Time.”
“Gutfeld!” features familiar faces from the weekend show,which has aired since 2015, including Katherine “Kat” Timpf, Tyrus and Tom Shillue, along with a monologue, comic sketches, guests and group conversation.
“It’s a talk show on a cable news network. And it’s run by somebody who is not a typical newscaster. I’m not like any of the (competing) hosts. I’m not a comedian,” says Gutfeld, 56, a bestselling author who came to Fox in 2007 after a career as a writer and editor, including the U.K. edition of Maxim, a men’s magazine known for photos of scantily clad celebrities and models.
Greg Gutfeld gets comfortable on the new set for his Fox News late-night show, ‘Gutfeld!’ (Photo: Photo provided by Fox News Channel)
“Gutfeld!” is his fourth Fox News show after the former “Red Eye” and “The Greg Gutfeld Show” and current “The Five” (weekdays, 5 EDT/2 EDT), where he remains a panelist. The new show will tape each night shortly after “The Five.”
“All of the shows have a similar feel when I’m around. That means delivering some kind of original truth that has some kind of humor attached to it,” he says. “I’m hoping that it’s something people may have been thinking about but hadn’t said themselves. And if it’s funny, it’s funny.”
Gutfeld’s sensibility comes through in his “Five” monologues, which will move to the new show. Recent topics include former President Bill Clinton participating in a women’s empowerment talk (“like having Woody Allen direct the Teen Choice Awards”); the “woke implosion” at Teen Vogue (“a magazine, and a planet, are being run by people with adolescent mentalities”); and the race-related controversies on “The Bachelor” and “The Talk” (“One can only move forward if another is canceled”).
Fox News Channel put up a billboard promoting its new late-night weeknight show, ‘Gutfeld!,’ on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles near the studio for ABC’s late-night show, ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ (Photo: Fox News Channel)
He says the tone of the weeknight show, which will address political, cultural and lifestyle topics, is unlikely to be influenced by the hard-edged vibe of the primetime opinion shows.
“This is basically like ‘The Five’ set at a bar. It’s looser. It shouldn’t be deliberately upsetting people at 11 p.m.,” he says. “I want people to sleep really good when they go to bed, feeling somewhat positive, which is always a challenge for me because I’m kind of a misanthrope and a smartass.”
At the same time, Gutfeld, a California native and University of California, Berkeley, graduate says, “I’m getting behind the strongest (Fox News) voices and I want to hold onto their audience and build it,” he says. “I’m really confident about that. I want to be at that table, not like, ‘Here comes Gutfeld. Everybody go to bed.'”
Meade Cooper, Fox News’ executive vice president of primetime programming, sees “Gutfeld!” as “a satirical take on the news of the day” and a good “light-hearted” fit with the opinion hours that precede it.
“It’s a nice complement” after a day of news and opinion shows, Cooper says. “By 11 o’clock, people might be ready to laugh a little bit. So we get Greg to wrap it all up in a funny way and then transition to Shannon Bream,” whose newscast was bumped an hour later, to midnight EDT/9 PDT.
Despite tougher competition, Cooper expects Gutfeld – whose weekend show averaged 1.9 million viewers this year, to perform well in its the 11 p.m. hour – where Bream’s program averaged 1.2 million viewers in March.
With another opinion hour at 7 EDT, for which Fox News is auditioning hosts on-air, the network will have five straight hours of opinion, which has been its best-performing format. No additional programming changes are imminent, Cooper says.
With the promotional slogan “Cancel Culture Just Got Cancelled!,” “Gutfeld!” is liable to rile some people at bedtime, although they probably aren’t a big part of the Fox News audience. It’s a topic he has been writing and talking about since before “cancel culture” got that label.
Greg Gutfeld, right, will continue to appear on Fox News Channel’s ‘The Five,’ where he is seen in 2020 with fellow panelists Dagen McDowell, left, Juan Williams, Jesse Watters and Dana Perino. (Photo: Fox News Channel)
“Why (cancel culture) is different than just normal critiquing of things that would lead to the end of a practice is that the process is not there to debate such things,” he says. “Also, part of the cancel culture is there’s things you shouldn’t debate. Who is deciding what’s not debatable? Does that remove topics that we need to talk about? Whether it’s race, religion, gender, getting at all these truths, you’re going to be imperfect. It’s going to be sloppy.”
Because “Gutfeld!” will be taped, the host won’t have to worry about embarrassing moments on live TV, as happened last month when he was caught unaware singing about his urgent need for a bathroom break.
“That was the best way to get hot mic’d. To have something as silly, as stupid as that be your mistake, I was was lucky. Imagine if I was talking about personal matters,” he says, pausing. “Or something even more personal!”
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