CNN’s new boss is not ready to fill Chris Cuomo’s old primetime slot just yet.

Chris Licht, who this week replaced scandal-tarred Jeff Zucker as CEO, told employees at a town hall meeting Thursday that he is shooting to have a new show ready in the 9 p.m. hour this fall after “experimenting” with the slot, according to a report.

“Let’s try some things at 9 o’clock,” Licht said, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by the New York Times. “Let’s have some fun with it. Let’s just try some things. But my intention is to have a show ready to launch in the fall at 9 o’clock.”

Cuomo, who previously held that slot, was fired by CNN last year after a probe into his efforts to aid his embattled older brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Thursday’s town hall meeting, which lasted more than an hour, was the first time Licht spoke to CNN employees since he took over as chairman of CNN this week, the report said. Licht last addressed staff at the end of April when he shut down CNN+, the network’s costly one-month old streaming service.

Licht said he’s experimenting with Cuomo’s old show but expects to finalize plans for it by the fall.
WireImage

A CNN rep declined to comment.

During the town hall, Licht was interviewed by Erin Burnett, host of CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” which airs weekdays at 7 p.m., the report said.

Licht, a former executive producer at “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “CBS This Morning” and “Morning Joe,” was asked about his approach to CNN’s morning programming, which includes New Day” and “Early Start.”

He told Burnett that he thought the network’s morning show could be a “disruptive force” and added that he would work with CNN executive producer Eric Hall to figure out the future of its early lineup.

“Once I find out where the bathrooms are, one of the things I’m really looking forward to is sitting down with him and his team and figuring out what can this show be?” he said.

Licht also said he hoped Chris Wallace the former “Fox News Sunday” anchor who hosted a show on CNN+, would remain at the network. Calling Wallace a “tremendous talent,” Licht noted that the anchor was working on a podcast and a show with the former NPR host Audie Cornish, who also hosted a show on CNN+.

Chris Cuomo
Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN last year, after a probe into his efforts to aid his embattled older brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Getty Images for CNN

Wallace has been buzzed about as a potential replacement for Cuomo by industry sources, but Licht has remained tight-lipped on his plans. The website Puck recently reported that CNN is planning to keep Wallace at the network and is moving his show onto the HBO Max streaming service, which is owned by CNN parent Warner Bros. Discovery.

The last few months have been a volatile time for CNN. The network’s longtime president, Jeff Zucker, resigned in February after failing to disclose a romantic relationship with CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer Allison Gollust. Zucker’s shocking exit occurred ahead of a pending merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery and raised fresh concerns about CNN’s outlook.

During the meeting, Licht responded to a question about potential layoffs, adding that he did not plan to make large cuts to the employee ranks at CNN.

“This is an organization that has had gut punch after gut punch after gut punch,” Licht said. “And most of the organizations out there wouldn’t have survived.”

Licht said that he has had conversations with Zucker about how CNN employees don’t leak, adding that he thought the network had “gone away from that a little bit” amid a flurry of reports in the aftermath of Zucker’s departure and CNN+’s demise.

“Let’s have this be a reset,” Licht concluded.

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