"Parker Spitzer," CNN's latest bid for cable-news supremacy — a politically themed talk-show hosted by scandal-scarred former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist Kathleen Parker — made its debut last night, featuring interviews with The Social Network screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart, and newly-appointed White House assistant Elizabeth Warren. Though the channel reportedly has high hopes for the 8 p.m. show, which faces off against Bill O'Reilly's nightly Fox News program, critics struggled to find anything nice to say about it. (Watch the hosts interview Aaron Sorkin.) A sample of reviews:
The hosts have absolutely zero chemistry: CNN clearly wants to set Parker and Spitzer up as "news anchors with the kind of bantering rapport found in romantic comedy," says Alessandra Stanley at The New York Times, a sort of "'Crossfire' meets 'Moonlighting.'" As far as chemistry goes, however, theirs has the "queasy whiff of sulfur."
"'Recovering' Politician, Aspiring...?"
But it's entirely Spitzer's fault: "Squirming like a flounder and blushing a terrible shade of crimson," says Andrea Peyser at the New York Post, the former politician could only resort to "inappropriate grins and giggles at his grim-faced co-host." Who thought it would be a good idea to get this "shamed ex-governor, infamous for his sad sex romps with hookers," to host a talk show?
"Freak show unbearable to watch"
The producers are straining: With too many guests "crowded together around a round table the size of a medium pizza" and "too many uncomfortably tight head shots," this show is working too hard to create a sense of "intimacy," says James Poniewozik at Time. "Nothing personal, I just don't want to be that close to Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker."
"Parker Spitzer's first night: Too close for comfort"
If this is CNN's best shot, it is truly sunk: With the recent firing of both its president Jonathan Klein and "clownish anchor" Rick Sanchez, there was already "carnage in the air" for CNN, says Dan Kennedy at The Guardian." And "'Parker Spitzer' did nothing to reverse the notion that CNN is utterly lost." Why is CNN trying so hard at 8 p.m.? "Against O'Reilly and Olbermann, it hasn't got a chance."
"Parker Spitzer: no snap or crackle, and not pop"