MSNBC: More than Talk

Turning away from talk shows at night, MSNBC will kick off
its fall primetime lineup Sept. 27 with Ann Curry at the helm of its nightly newsmagazine
and with the debut of a previously announced Biography-type show hosted by Matt
Lauer, officials said last week.

Special Edition, hosted by NBC Today'sCurry,
will continue airing at 8 p.m. weeknights, followed by The News with Brian Williams at
9 p.m. and Headliners & Legends with Matt Lauer at 10 p.m.

Special Edition,which began as a series of
specials,will now feature a combination of live and taped reports, original
interviews from NBC News correspondents and segments from various NBC News programs.

The show will also have the flexibility to cover breaking
news, and it will do five to seven stories each night. Michael Rubin, a former executive
producer at CBS News, is its executive producer.

Trying to drive up its primetime ratings, MSNBC began
paving the way this summer for the new fall schedule. It canceled John Hockenberry's
10 p.m. interview-talk show and moved Oliver North's Equal Time to 6:30 p.m.
from 8 p.m.

In its infancy, the talk-show genre was a staple for MSNBC,
in part because it was relatively inexpensive programming to produce as the network tried
to find ways to keep viewers tuned when high-profile news events weren't taking
place, according to MSNBC general manager Erik Sorenson.

But now, he said, "There's too much talk. It has
a limited audience, and there are so many doing it that it is splintering an already
limited audience."

Sorenson sees MSNBC having better odds for success
"with produced high-quality programming," adding, "We're opening up
our wallets."

He also said MSNBC is making good on its promise of
featuring key NBC News talent like Lauer.

Headliners & Legends will look at the life stories
of popular and significant figures of the time, from newsmakers, to politicians, to TV and
movie stars.

The inaugural week will include profiles of Martha Reeves
(Martha Reeves and the Vandellas), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Gen. Colin Powell, Cher,
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, John Gotti, Ricky Nelson and Andy Kaufman.

Former Dateline senior national producer Tim
Uehlinger will serve as executive producer for Headliners & Legends.

At a recent Cable Advertising Association of New York
seminar, Lauer was asked if his show would resemble A&E Network's Biography.
He said Headliners & Legends will be "kind of a history lesson and
biography in one. There will be a major concentration on the times the person comes

This summer, MSNBC's primetime ratings were flat
compared with a year ago, at a 0.4, according to Nielsen Media Research data.