NBC host Megyn Kelly's first week hosting her new morning show had a rocky start and was "like an implosion," according to a network insider.
Kelly, a former attorney and host of "Megyn Kelly Today," appeared to be in her element last Friday when she interviewed Chris Darden, the famous prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case, and Fred and Kim Goldman, father and sister of the slain Ron Goldman, ahead of Simpson's release from prison. But the former prime-time Fox News host has struggled to adapt to the more light-hearted nature of morning television, and her new show was largely criticized by viewers and guests during its first week, Vanity Fair reported Monday night.
She appears far more comfortable talking about legal affairs and scandals than yukking it up with celebrities on publicity tours and commiserating about having to wear Spanx with high-waisted pants, as she did earlier in the week in a segment about fall wardrobes. The segment was within her Fox News wheelhouse, yet slightly softened for her new 9 a.m. network slot, and it came together into the kind of segment morning T.V. watchers regularly lap up along with their coffee.
BuzzFeed and the New York Times both published negative reviews after Kelly's first week hosting her new morning show; the former noted the various voices she appeared to force on air, such as "the Valley Girl, the Whisper, the Blaccent, the Baby, the Purposely Deep to Be Funny."
While many television shows do not quickly become hits—especially when a network is trying to transition a star's persona in real time, like Stephen Colbert after he moved to CBS—Vanity Fair noted that Kelly's colleagues have not been patient, attacking her behind the scenes.
Inside NBC, however, some of Kelly's new colleagues aren't so patient. "It's like an implosion," one NBC insider told me [Emily Jane Fox] last week. Kelly's arrival has been widely anticipated since January, when NBC offered her some $17 million to leave Fox News and attempt to translate her primetime cable-news persona into morning-show mirth.
Her roll-out, which included an underwhelming stint on her own Sunday show, had stoked some fears that her arrival on network TV might not be seamless. But few were prepared for the stinging rebuke that her first week received. "Everyone is surprised at how quickly it's gone badly," this person continued. "People are just like, ‘oh my god.'" A half-dozen people within the NBC orbit confirmed that the chatter within 30 Rock is that in its first week, Kelly's show did not get off to a great start.
The [New York] Post reported that NBC insiders were calling it a "shit show," saying that the network had been hosting crisis meetings about how to handle it and that staffers were "outraged" by her "diva-like" ways. Her debut at 9 a.m. would not offer a reprieve. In its first week, Megyn Kelly Today garnered O.K. ratings that tailed off as the week went on. It bumped through a series of blips, in which Debra Messing, who appeared on the premiere, said she "regretted" going on the show. Kelly managed to offend Jane Fonda by asking her about plastic surgery.
After Kelly's interview with Darden on Friday, she thanked her audience and acknowledged that she had received criticism for her show.
"It's been very exciting. It has been educational. I've just been so delighted at the media response," she said. "What? No," she joked.
Kelly has been criticized for her lack of authenticity since her days at Fox News, when network founder Roger Ailes called her into his office a dozen years ago to say that she had an authenticity problem, according to Kelly's book, Settle for More. In her book, Kelly questioned why she could not make friends more easily and why women did not want to be around her. She also learned through her therapy sessions that she was trying to project an image that did not resemble her true identity.