NEW YORK - CNN is starting a weekly talk show on international issues led by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria that will debut Sunday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as an interview subject.
Fareed Zakaria - GPS
, (it stands for "global public square") will air Sundays at 1 p.m. and be rebroadcast at a yet-to-be determined time on CNN International.
CNN U.S. chief Jonathan Klein approached Zakaria about a year ago and was told that "the only show I want to do is one that fills in the huge, gaping hole in American television, which is 95 percent of the rest of the world," Zakaria said in an interview with the Associated Press yesterday.
Zakaria, a columnist and editor of Newsweek International, wrote the just-published book
The Post-American World
. He said he found it frustrating to turn on American news networks and hear endless discussions about why Hillary Clinton should or shouldn't leave the presidential race when there is so much legitimate news elsewhere. He fears a vicious circle is at work: Networks don't show much international news because they fear viewers aren't interested, and viewers aren't interested because they get so little of it.
Zakaria also said he understood the need to make a compelling program that won't seem like the college seminar you tried to skip.
"People instinctively think they're going to be bored by this, and you have to grab them by the lapels," he said.
He said he hoped the show would lend perspective to what is happening and would be "less perishable" than a typical news show. For example, the earthquake in China might lead to a discussion about what the tragedy means to the country's economy or politics.
"I don't want to be off the news," he said. "I don't want to be doing Turkey the week the earthquake hits China. But I don't want to just be doing the earthquake."
Blair, now an international peace envoy, will be the subject of the show's first centerpiece interview, which generally will run about 20 minutes. Zakaria said he'd like to interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai together on the screen with Pakistan's new leader to discuss problems between the two countries. CNN's Christiane Amanpour will be among the panelists appearing frequently.
Fareed Zakaria - GPS
will look at world problems from an American perspective, a take Zakaria also believes will interest people overseas. The show's executive producer, Liza McGuirk, called Zakaria "the rare journalist who always looks right past the obvious, to get at what a story really means."
McGuirk is returning to CNN, where she was the fifth person hired by the network in 1980. She worked recently as a free-lance documentary producer after leaving CBS News, where she was a producer for the late Ed Bradley on