'Megyn Kelly Today' Is Having Trouble Booking Celebrity Guests

Celebrity publicists are, so far, reportedly unenthusiastic about their clients appearing on Megyn Kelly Today, the renamed 9 a.m. Eastern hour of the Today show franchise on NBC, because of bad buzz. Now finishing its third week, Megyn Kelly's attempt to reinvent herself from prime-time news anchor to daytime diva focusing on lifestyle and entertainment has been met with underwhelming reviews, even drawing comparisons to the Bride of Frankenstein.

Several well-publicized awkward moments with stars such as the cast of Will and Grace, Jane Fonda, and Tom Brokaw probably haven't helped matters either.

According to New York Times TV reporter John Koblin, Megyn Kelly Today in Week 2, with 2.2 million viewers (a decline from Week 1), was down 24 percent and 38 percent in total viewers and in the advertiser-desired demographic, respectively. Although Week 3 ratings aren't in yet, ratings were boosted significantly on Monday, however, when Kelly interviewed TV reporter Lauren Sivan about her disturbing encounter with scandal-ridden movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

A report earlier this week in the New York Post suggested that the underperforming Megyn Kelly Today is also a ratings drag on the 10 a.m. program featuring Kathie Lee and Hoda, which is down 26 percent over last year.

According to Variety, Megyn Kelly's show may turn out to be a no-go zone for celebrities, which could really make things difficult moving forward, since celebs are a staple of daytime TV.

"A number of publicists who spoke to Variety expressed discomfort with the idea of booking their clients in the third hour of Today...These publicists, however, said they are still eager to take their talent to other blocs of the morning show. 'I'm not booking anyone on her show,' says a high-powered publicist, with a roster of big names, who asked for anonymity due to her overall relationship with Today. 'I literally haven't pitched anyone even from right out the gate. The buzz that is out there is so bad.' Another well-known publicist, who represents one of the celebrities who has appeared on Kelly's show, wasn't pleased with the interview. '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.'"
Celebrity publicists unenthusiastic about putting clients on Megyn Kelly Today
[Image by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Images]

As previously explained by the Inquisitr, Megyn Kelly's 12-year tenure on the Fox News Channel (which Variety refers to as the "other elephant in the room") is predictably an issue for mostly liberal Hollywood celebrities, and NBC execs probably should have anticipated the political ramifications when they signed her to a $23 million per year deal for three years.

Variety explains.

"Kelly carries heavy baggage from her years as the star anchor of Fox News, where she extolled her political views and shot up to superstardom battling with then-candidate Donald Trump. One publicist said they didn't want their client to schmooze with Kelly, because her brand is too alienating, as a result of her association to the conservative news network. 'I don't even know if it's as much her as it is Fox News,' the publicist said. 'Because she came from Fox News, she was set up for failure because the industry is so polarized now and no one wants to touch anything associated with Trump.'"
As alluded to above, the success of Megyn Kelly's new show poses a challenge because she seems to lack a solid fan base or a constituency. For example, those Fox News viewers disillusioned with her over all the anti-Trump content on The Kelly File during the election season seem unlikely to follow her to NBC. On the other side of the coin, more liberal NBC viewers could be reluctant to welcome Megyn Kelly into their living rooms because of her FNC resume. Or, as an Inquisitr commenter previously observed about a perceived crossover-appeal or lack thereof, "The left hates her and the right has disowned her."

In a New York Times Op-Ed, a self-described liberal writes that she misses the old, Fox News version of Megyn Kelly rather than her new, watered-down persona.

"Instead of unleashing her, NBC has attempted to transform Megyn Kelly into one of the nice girls of mainstream media, another Kelly Ripa, Savannah Guthrie or Katie Couric. The results have been predictably awkward. The glee at her stumble has been swift and vicious."
The level of anti-Kelly vitriol in the comments section under the article demonstrates the headwinds that Megyn Kelly is facing in trying to find an audience.

Separately, some Megyn Kelly detractors contend that when the media personality and former corporate lawyer famously challenged Donald Trump during the August 2015 GOP presidential debate over his past disparaging comments about women ("only Rosie O'Donnell," the future president famously quipped), it was more about careerism and auditioning for another network — which turned out to be NBC — than a legitimate journalistic inquiry. That exchange touched off a feud that Kelly has described as "the year of Trump."

The pro-Trump Breitbart News website summed up the celebrity-guest deficit as a form of blacklisting. Other outlets have described it as a soft boycott.

"Kelly's biggest problem is that she has no audience. The left will never forgive the former Queen of Fox News, and everyone else sees her as a grasping schemer who tried to tank Donald Trump's presidential campaign as a means to advance her own career."
[Featured Image by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Images]