Deadline Hollywood says, “IN THE NEWS DEMO, JESUS TRAILS ONLY MIKE ROWE’S SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT DEBUT OF 537,000 VIEWERS.”
First of all, congratulations on such a strong premiere. Like many others, I was both pleased and surprised to find you on CNN. All things considered, I would have expected to find you somewhere around O’Reilly, especially after the success of his most recent book. But I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say what an honor it is to have you in the prime time line-up on The Original Cable News Network.
Secondly, I’m not sure what to say about the fact that Somebody’s Gotta Do It beat your new show in the key demo. It’s a crazy business. I remember when Honey Boo Boo beat Dirty Jobs a few years ago. I was devastated. Inconsolable. How could a show as authentic as mine get smoked by a pudgy little beauty queen with a smart mouth and a room full of writers? Obviously, ratings matter, and there’s no accounting for taste. But in the end, it’s your brand that’s most important, and in that regard, nothing matters more than authenticity.
Obviously Jesus, I don’t have to tell you this. You wrote the book on Authenticity, and here at CNN, you’ll find that “being yourself” is always encouraged. That’s the good news. But be advised – while a strong premiere is an excellent reason to celebrate, there’s something you need to know about the pitfalls of a program like yours on a news channel. And that something is this – authenticity and good news are no match for all the trouble in the world.
This may sound like an excuse, in part because it is. But it’s also a heads-up. Last season, Somebody’s Gotta Do It was preempted 37.5% of the time. That’s extraordinary. In fact, that level of preemption has never happened before in the history of television, and the impact is significant, both on ratings and personal credibility.
Week after week, I’d promote a “lighthearted look at real people who genuinely love what they do.” People tuned in, but what they got was not what I promised. They got Ebola and ISIS. Riots and racial tension. Natural disasters, looming elections, a nuclear Iran, and a variety of other ghastly floats in the never-ending Parade of Horribles better known as Breaking News. Consequently, fans became frustrated. Many shared their frustration on this very page. Many more lost faith that my show even existed. My own father has likened me to the “Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and now, he’s affirmatively skeptical that anything I say can be taken at face value. (He’s a wonderful Dad, but not as understanding as yours.)
I’m not saying the same will happen to you. But you of all people know how hard it is to build an audience these days, or maintain a loyal following. The fact is, you and I face a similar challenge. We’re both attempting to inject a little Good News onto a channel best known for reporting the kind of facts and information that would depress a hyena. You’re off to a great start Jesus, but trust me on this – no matter how well your show is doing, CNN will yank you off the air at the first hint of global calamity or civil unrest.
If I were in your sandals, I’d take immediate steps to give myself every opportunity for success. Specifically, I’d eliminate all the bad news in the world for the next five weeks. If that’s too squarely at odds with Free Will or Predestination or any other spiritual dogma, then maybe I’d just focus on the 24 hours proceeding my time slot. I’m telling you – keeping your time slot clear of war and pestilence will do more to build your audience than the best marketing campaign in the world.
Clearly, I’m not you, and I apologize for even imagining to possess a modicum of omnipotence. So I’ll just ask you outright – if you do decide to rearrange the chronology of future bad news, please note that SGDI is no longer on Wednesdays at 9pm. The new season will air on Thursdays at 9pm, beginning April 9th, and CNN has asked me to once again, do what I can do to spread the word. While I’m happy to alert the 2.3 million people on this page, your reach, last I checked, was a bit broader.
I know it’s a big ask, but SGDI really is right up your alley. Real people doing what they love, living with passion, and enjoying their God-given gifts. There are worse things to watch…
Either way, good luck next week, and please give my regards to your father. I’m meeting mine for dinner. Wish me luck!
PS. Full disclosure, I didn’t watch your show yet, but I did record it, and promise to watch it tonight. As you may know, all viewings within three days of the premiere count toward the ultimate rating. It’s all about the pick-up Jesus, and while I know there’s more important things on your plate, I’d love to see you back for a second season.