As part of the ongoing revamping of its primetime lineup,
MSNBC last week canceled John Hockenberry's nightly 10 p.m. Hockenberry interview
show, with the final one airing last Thursday.
That cancellation is just part of MSNBC's game plan to
overhaul its schedule in an attempt to drive up its ratings. Last week, MSNBC also moved
Oliver North's Equal Time to 6:30 p.m. from 8 p.m., and it debuted the first of a
series of one-hour primetime specials, Special Edition, that will air in the 8 p.m.
Hockenberry -- who had a prior show on MSNBC, Edgewise,
which had also been canceled -- will reportedly be moving over to work for NBC's Dateline.
The night before his final show, Hockenberry started what
turned out to be a series of parting shots. On his Wednesday show, he told his audience
that the Thursday program would be his last, adding that he was weighing what his final
topic should be.
"We're considering some bottom-line questions, like:
How bad does cable TV suck?" Hockenberry said last Wednesday.
On his last show Thursday, Hockenberry made reference to
"Now last night
I did make a possibly
unprofessional allusion that the subject of tonight's program would be the quality of
content on cable television," he said. "I want to say to everyone tonight that
is not going to be our subject because, actually, I was thinking about it today,
and that question is absolutely settled."
Hockenberry got a few more jabs in. In a discussion on the
respectability of the press, he said, "The respectable press? Remember, you're on a
cable show, buddy."
And ending his show, Hockenberry signed off with, "In
the 5 trillion-channel world, these moments don't really mean very much anymore, but let
met stop the drive-by-shooting information age we call cable television and say: See you
again sometime, maybe on Dateline."
As for the new replacement Special Edition specials,
they will include original interviews, segments from NBC News and NBC archival footage.
The inaugural Special Edition aired last Thursday,
anchored by Soledad O'Brien, and it included a profile on serial killers, a feature on
famous lost fortunes tied to Elton John's recent financial problems and a consumer report
on sunscreen usage.
MSNBC officials have declined to comment in detail on their
new primetime schedule, which they said they will officially unveil in the next few weeks.
But the lineup will include Matt Lauer's new biography
show, Headliners and Legends, as well as sister network CNBC's Hardball with
Chris Matthews, whichwill reportedly switch networks.