PANIC OVER MEGYN’S TO­DAY SHOW START

Ex­ecs are scram­bling after crit­ics and view­ers lash out at Megyn Kelly

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The re­views started ap­pear­ing on­line just hours after Megyn Kelly made her Sept. 25 de­but as host of To­day’s third hour — and they were bru­tal. “[It] was like watch­ing a net­work try to as­sem­ble its own Bride of Franken­stein, us­ing parts of Ellen De­generes, Kelly Ripa and what­ever else it can find,” said The Wash­ing­ton Post. CNN said NBC had hired Megyn away from Fox News “with­out hav­ing fully thought through how best to de­ploy her.” Crit­ics al­most uni­ver­sally la­beled the show “awk­ward,” and Time called her “more chilly than chill.”

Then things got even worse. Megyn’s stum­bles in her first few days, in­clud­ing cringe­wor­thy in­ter­views with the Will & Grace cast and Hol­ly­wood leg­end Jane Fonda, drew the ire of so­cial me­dia users who found some of her com­ments of­fen­sive. “Sorry, but Megyn Kelly sucks. She’s just not like­able,” tweeted one typ­i­cally blunt viewer. The rat­ings for her first day were good, as view­ers sam­pled the new show, but harsh re­views and viewer back­lash threw To­day ex­ecs into a panic and while Megyn, 46, stayed pos­i­tive pub­licly, in pri­vate she was “ab­so­lutely mor­ti­fied,” says a net­work in­sider. “Leav­ing Fox was a huge gam­ble for her and she doesn’t want to give any­one the sat­is­fac­tion of see­ing her fail.” (A net-

work source de­nies that Megyn is mor­ti­fied.)

FALL­ING FLAT

In that case, she’ll have to do a lot bet­ter. On her first day, Megyn, who awk­wardly talked about her­self and stiffly told jokes, asked a Will & Grace su­per­fan if he “be­came gay” be­cause of the show. View­ers were hor­ri­fied, and star De­bra Mess­ing said she was “dis­mayed” by the in­ter­view and re­gret­ted ap­pear­ing. On Sept. 27, after Megyn asked Jane, 79, about her plas­tic surgery — in the mid­dle of a joint in­ter­view with Robert Red­ford to pro­mote their Net­flix film Our Souls at Night — the ac­tress snapped at the host and was so fu­ri­ous, a source says, she later called a top NBC exec to com­plain. “With Bob there,” Jane told Life & Style at the Sept. 27 Our Souls premiere, “it was just a strange ques­tion.”

Megyn has in­sisted she’s not wor­ried, but she seems

des­per­ate to es­cape her past, where she was a star at Fox News but also po­lar­ized peo­ple with com­ments most deemed racist. One in­fa­mous state­ment that con­tin­ues to haunt her is “Je­sus was a white man, too. He’s a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure, that’s a ver­i­fi­able fact, as is Santa — I just want kids to know that.” The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Jour­nal­ists re­leased a state­ment say­ing, “Kelly has a well-doc­u­mented his­tory of of­fen­sive re­marks re­gard­ing peo­ple of color.”

Now, how­ever, Megyn says she wants her new show to be “fun and up­lift­ing and ide­ally em­pow­er­ing and en­light­en­ing.” But if things don’t change after her dis­as­trous de­but, the in­sider adds, this “could be a sink­ing ship that goes down quickly.”

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