A number of celebrity publicists are expressing hesitation and even refusing to book their clients on Megyn Kelly's new NBC program, according to a new report.
"Megyn Kelly Today" is off to a rocky start in its third-hour time slot of NBC's vaunted "Today" lineup, and Variety spoke to publicists who have taken notice.
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"I'm not booking anyone on her show," one publicist who Variety called "high-powered" said. "I literally haven't pitched anyone even from right out the gate. The buzz that is out there is so bad."
Another publicist who has had a client appear on Kelly's show expressed regret about it.
"I won't plan to have others go on," the publicist said. "None specifically have been offered or asked to, but it'll be my preference not to."
Some of the hesitation stemmed from confusion about what exactly Kelly's show is, Variety reported.
Over the summer, sources tell Variety that producers from Kelly's show made a trip to Los Angeles to sell the big publicity firms on the new hour of "Today," promising a lighter, more inspirational Kelly that viewers hadn't seen before. However, according to an insider who attended one of the meetings, the team didn't seem to have a clear direction of the show they were pitching. Kelly didn't fit into a box like Ellen DeGeneres or Dr. Oz. And as a result, not too many celebrities jumped onboard.
While Kelly said off the bat she wanted to avoid politics and be lighter and uplifting, she has already touched on some hot-button issues like the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal and gun control.
Kelly's show debuted Sept. 25, and it had a series of awkward moments in the first week.
Left-wing actress Debra Messing complained on Instagram that she did not know she would be appearing on Kelly's program during a group interview with the other cast members of "Will and Grace." She called herself "dismayed" by a joke Kelly made about a fan of the show becoming gay because he watched it.
Later that week, another left-wing actress, Jane Fonda, reacted with anger and disbelief at a question Kelly posed about plastic surgery the Oscar-winning actress has had.
Kelly has struggled in the transition from hard-hitting political prime-time host at Fox News to the more sunny world of morning television, and Variety noted she is losing by 17 percent in the ratings to "Live With Kelly and Ryan" on ABC.
However, a spokesperson for NBC denied the show is having trouble securing guests, citing upcoming appearances by Miles Teller, Goldie Hawn, and Alec Baldwin.
An insider closer to Kelly told Variety that she expected negativity in the early going because of her reportedly high salary of $17 million a year.
"Of course, there are going to be kinks in the first weeks, but people are being negative and unfair," the source said, comparing her to coverage to other new talk show hosts. "[Stephen] Colbert got killed his first week and first month."