NBC’s latest newsmagazine, Rock Center with Brian Williams, may sound like an electric guitar class at the Learning Annex, but the weekly hour-long show just landed a seriously good name. Ted Koppel, formerly of Nightline, will appear on Rock Center as a “special correspondent.” Koppel worked at ABC for 42 years before he left Nightline in 2005, so this is quite the coup for NBC. Between Koppel’s defection and the fact that people are starting to watch network news again, Rock Center might just breathe optimism into NBC’s fall lineup. (That optimism is quickly lost, however, when you realize they offered Whitney a full-season extension.)
The Washington Post reports the newsmagazine has snagged Meredith Vieira, Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Nancy Snyderman, and Richard Engel to contribute reporting. “My goal has been to make Rock Center the Cooperstown of our craft,” Williams said today, overstating the aforementioned contributors by alluding to the upstate New York home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. How often Koppel will contribute his special reporting is not yet known, but it’ll be nice to see him on the trail again. No matter what you think of Koppel, Tom Brokaw, or Dan Rather, their departures from network television only highlighted the increasing ridiculousness of cable news. Instead of having staid news anchors with a touch of gravitas, TV reporting is now dominated by the bombastic talking heads and neon scrawls of Fox News, MSNBC, and the like. Rock Center will premiere on Halloween. If Koppel’s first report is, “Are these costumes too sexy for your children?,” we’ll know that cable news has won.