Christiane Amanpour Takes the Old ‘Charlie Rose’ Slot on PBS

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Say farewell to the oak table and the darkened room.

On Monday night, PBS will air the first episode of its replacement for “Charlie Rose,” the nightly interview program that came to a sudden end nearly 10 months ago after its eponymous host was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

Hosted by Christiane Amanpour, the new program, “Amanpour & Company,” will share the conversational spirit of the old one — but nothing else.

“I think this will be quite different from the previous show,” Ms. Amanpour said. “We’re more focused on what’s happening right now and conscious of the news. So while we will do cultural and nonpolitical work, we also very much have got our finger on the pulse of what’s going on.”

Ms. Amanpour, 60, made her name as a CNN war correspondent in the early 1990s, covering conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Haiti and Rwanda. “Where There’s War, There’s Amanpour” went a New York Times headline in 1994. Since 2012, she has been the host on CNN International of “Amanpour,” the show that served as a fill-in for PBS as it made plans for something more permanent.

Mr. Rose’s show, with its procession of establishment guests and clubby atmosphere, remained unchanged through its more-than-two-decade run. In its place will be a program, led by a formidable woman, that promises to be brighter, livelier and more of the moment.

“It maintains the tradition,” Ms. Amanpour said, “but it certainly expands on it and brings it into the 21st century, in terms of certainly its gender parity and its look around the world.”

She got the job thanks, in part, to good timing. Neal Shapiro, the chief executive of WNET, the flagship station of PBS, said there was no backup plan to put into effect in the event of a sudden end to “Charlie Rose.” A day or two after the allegations that the host was a serial sexual harasser came to light, Mr. Shapiro received a call from Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, who passed along a programming idea.

“The PBS audience is very specific, very intelligent, very globally focused,” Mr. Zucker said in an interview. “When you think about it that way, someone who came to my mind immediately was Christiane Amanpour.”

Mr. Zucker reached out to Ms. Amanpour, who was “incredibly interested” in taking the late night slot, the CNN chief said. Then came the detail work: He offered PBS Ms. Amanpour’s 30-minute CNN International show for no fee as an interim replacement, he said. Within two weeks, Mr. Shapiro signed on.

What no one could have guaranteed was that “Amanpour” had the makings of a permanent solution to the hole in the PBS schedule. But the ratings were stable, and the reviews from loyal PBS viewers were strong.

“It didn’t take long for us to realize that Christiane was quite a good match for PBS,” Mr. Shapiro said.

What PBS and WNET ultimately wanted was an hourlong show, one that could maintain the time slot’s long connection to New York. While Ms. Amanpour will host mainly from London, her home city, the four regular contributors who make up the “Company” of “Amanpour & Company” will work largely out of New York.

The correspondents are NPR’s “All Things Considered” weekend host, Michel Martin; the “PBS NewsHour Weekend” host, Hari Sreenivasan; a Bustle contributing editor, Alicia Menendez; and Walter Isaacson, the biographer (“Steve Jobs,” “Einstein”) and a frequent “Charlie Rose” guest.

The plan calls for three interview-based segments each night, with Ms. Amanpour on camera for two of them and a contributor taking the third. “Amanpour & Company” will also air abroad, on CNN International.

Last week, Ms. Amanpour and her team gathered to tape a segment for the first episode. The brightly lit set dispelled any notion that the show would resemble the one it replaces.

Behind Ms. Amanpour was a graphic of the continental United States punctuated by flickering lights, a display that would be familiar to any CNN viewer. As on her CNN International program, Ms. Amanpour will sometimes conduct interviews via satellite. And the screen will include graphics in the distinctive CNN font.

“It’s not the darkened room and table, but we want to say this is a different show,” Mr. Shapiro said. “We, as TV producers, labor over them, but people don’t watch the set. They watch the host and the guest.”

The centerpiece was a glass table, which seemed not to thrill Ms. Amanpour.

“What is this New York woman kind of desk?” she asked.

“Like Fox News!” a producer replied, drolly.

It turned out that Ms. Amanpour wasn’t exactly joking. In a later interview, she said, “I never like the idea of sitting under a transparent desk so my legs could be the object of interest.”

Ms. Amanpour’s castmates sounded sanguine about the prospects for a new show that is heavy on talk. Ms. Martin, the NPR host, said: “Think about the popularity of podcasts. What are podcasts? Uninterrupted conversations, really. And the fact that people love them so much — they love the conversation, they love being able to carry a thought from one minute to the next without having to stop and revisit something.”

Mr. Isaacson said the segments would move beyond the latest bit of ephemera to light up social media. “It’s going to have a broad range, which is important in an era in which we’ve all gotten a little too hyper-focused on crises of the moment,” he said.

While Ms. Amanpour has had a long run as the host of a CNN International show, she has yet to prove herself as the anchor of a long-lasting program in the United States. When ABC made her the host of its Sunday morning public affairs show, “This Week,” in 2010, she said her main mission was to “make foreign news less foreign” and found herself out of the job in little over a year.

Mr. Zucker blamed the failure partly on Ms. Amanpour’s not quite fitting a morning television genre that demands plenty of inside-the-Beltway talk.

“It’s not that an American audience doesn’t want to see Christiane,” he said. “We have 30 years of evidence that they’ve been very open to having her be the person they get their international news from.”

Despite her ABC experience, Ms. Amanpour remains a believer in her own idea of what American audiences want.

“It was a challenge that I took on in 2010, and I believed we could do exactly this: lengthy interviews with real newsmakers, not just panels and pundits,” she said. “And really explore that nexus between the United States and rest of the world.

“The fact of the matter is,” she added, “I was hired by one ABC president, and another president came on board and didn’t buy into this. That’s that.”

Ms. Amanpour sounded proud to take on a job — talk show host — that has been dominated by men.

“Am I proud as a woman — and as a component woman, not just as a token woman — that I get this slot?” she said. “Absolutely. Do I think it was absolutely vital that a woman got this job? Absolutely. That’s what I believe.”

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