Megyn Kelly: My Morning Show Will Have an Identity Separate from ‘Today’

Megyn Kelly Morning
Jesse Dittmar/NBC
Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly is ready to begin her quest for morning glory. It’s been a long time coming: Last January, the Fox News darling was successfully wooed over to NBC, where she was handed a reported $17.5 million annual salary and two of her own shows. The first, newsmagazine Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly, had an initial eight-week run over the summer and will return next spring despite lower-than-expected ratings—an average of around 3.7 million viewers, three million less than what powerhouse 60 Minutes was doing in reruns—and controversy over an interview with far-right media personality and Sandy Hook school massacre denier Alex Jones.

On September 25, Kelly kicks off her second venture, Megyn Kelly Today, and the new program, considered a part of the Today franchise, will be an even bigger departure from her roots. Featuring a studio audience and airing at 9am, the talk show will be positioned between the newsy Today mother ship and the frothy fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, both in terms of timeslot and attitude. We asked the 46-year-old anchor for a full report.

You’ve recently become a regular contributor on Today. Are you getting comfortable with the morning arena’s homey feel?
It’s a fun format that didn’t take any getting used to. I’ve known the anchors for a long time, so that was a natural transition.

Will Megyn Kelly Today be instantly recognizable as part of the NBC morning family?
It’s a sister but not a twin. Viewers will find a familiar feel to the existing properties—we’re not trying to reject the most successful brand in morning television. We’re trying to embrace it! But my show will absolutely have its own identity. In the same way any show I’ve ever solo-anchored had my imprint, this one will too.

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Which will be…?
We’re trying to highlight human connection in an increasingly disconnected world and create a place where—as I wrote in my book, Settle for More—we can settle for more joy in a vitriolic country. I just feel like people are thirsty for it.

What types of subject matter does that include?
I want to talk about marriage, kids, our professional lives, happiness, personal struggle. As a rule, we won’t pursue politics. I’ve had enough of discussing politics. The name [of Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell won’t pass my lips. We won’t discuss troop levels in Afghanistan. That’s not the kind of topic you’d do at 9 o’clock in the morning. We can still tackle subjects like race relations and the transgender military ban, but I would ideally have a transgender service member talking about what the ban means to them, and someone defending President Trump’s position without making it about him.

So POTUS talk will be a no-no for the show, then?
Every website, every newspaper, every cable channel is about Trump. With all due respect, there are millions of people who would like to talk about the issues in our country without making everything a thumbs-up or -down on our current president.

On the premiere episode, your guests will be the cast of Will & Grace. Also coming up: legendary actors Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, appearing together. Will celebrities be a frequent part of the mix?
Yes, but not just to promote a project. We want celebrities who have a message of hope or can talk about a personal struggle.

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Who’s on your current dream list?
I’d love to get the actors from [NBC drama] This Is Us. I’m planning, though, for the show to be more about real people than celebrities. If someone’s got a real story that folks at home will connect with, then they’re a candidate.

Is each episode going to feature multiple segments?
Yes, unless we get an amazing guest or topic with a great panel that’s important enough to devote a full hour to.

This is a different genre for you. Do you have any particular role models in the talk show milieu?
Oprah [Winfrey]. If my show can provide any piece of inspiration akin to what she provided to her audience, then I will have succeeded. It’s not a matter of chasing the queen. You will be incorrect if you write “She wants to be like Oprah.” That’s a pointless exercise—I wouldn’t try, and I’m not. What I’m telling you is that I love what Oprah’s show did for me, as a woman, as a person on this Earth. This is a matter of wanting to do something great for the people who are watching today, in 2017 America.

Megyn Kelly Today, Premiere, Monday, Sept. 25, 9 a.m., NBC

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