CNN Serves Up RNC ‘Diner’

Cable News Network Monday showed off the traditional, old-style diner it’s transformed into a base for some of its GOP convention coverage, with the channel’s top executives and talent in tow as the Republican confab was about to kick off.

CNN has turned the Tick Tock Diner, located at the corner of 8th Avenue and 34th Street across from Madison Square Garden, into the “CNN Diner.” The all-news network wanted to have a site outside of the Republican National Convention activities at the Garden that would give viewers a sense of New York City, according to senior executive producer of political programming Sam Feist.

“We’re in New York,” Feist said during a press breakfast at the eatery. “And diners have a long history in American politics.”

CNN will telecast several shows live this week from the CNN Diner, which is now marked by a 26-foot vertical sign as well as two 30-by-40 façade banners that say “CNN: American’s Campaign Headquarters.” Crossfire will broadcast from the diner from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.; American Morning will do segments there; and Wolf Blitzer Reports will originate telecasts from the site.

The press breakfast attracted not only media from across the country in town for the RNC, but also a roster of CNN’s brain trust. Those breaking bread with reporters from the network’s executive side were Princell Hair, executive vice president and general manager of CNN/U.S.; Eason Jordan, CNN’s executive vice president and chief news executive;Scot Safon, senior vice president of marketing and promotions; and Greg D’Alba, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CNN Advertising and Marketing.

There was a big turnout from CNN’s talent ranks, including Blitzer, Jack Cafferty, Jeff Greenfield, Anderson Cooper, John King, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson and William Schneider.

To prep the diner, CNN took over and added 40 feet of neon inside and outside, installed 11 flat-screen TVs and enlisted the services of Kerry Heffernan, the executive chef and partner of the upscale eatery Eleven Madison Park.

Parked right in front of CNN Diner is the “CNN Election Express,” the 40-foot bus that’s fully equipped with the production gear the news network needs to do its live on-site coverage from the eatery.