NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) – Soledad O’Brien is returning to the morning as part of CNN’s revamped early lineup, confirming weeks of rumors that the former morning show anchor would again take on that role.
The CNN veteran will host a “conversational ensemble program” from 7a.m. to 9 a.m. ET, though the rest of that ensemble remains unclear. Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin will anchor a new show from 5 to 7 a.m. ET.
Despite the network’s recent ratings swell, the morning remains a quandary for the original cable news network. This spells the end of the ratings-challenged “American Morning,” whose ratings have paled in comparison to those of the major network morning shows, as well as those a their cable rivals, like Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
CNN is hoping that bringing back O’Brien, who served as a morning anchor from 2003 to 2006, will help boost this all-new lineup.
“CNN has the opportunity in the morning to cover a wider range of stories from broader perspectives,” Ken Jautz, the network’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “We are planning to offer something original in the four-hour morning block to complement our direction in primetime.”
A person familiar with the negotiations said O’Brien had been speaking with another network about anchoring, prompting CNN to step up its offer.
As part of this new arrangement, O’Brien will continue to serve as a correspondent for long-form documentaries.
“I couldn’t be more eager to return to daily news, to bring conversation and context to CNN viewers in the morning,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I welcome the opportunity to give voice to people who aren’t often heard, and stories that are sometimes overlooked. I love telling people’s stories, and I’m looking forward to bringing the perspective, heart and storytelling that have worked well in our documentaries to a morning audience.”
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