April 11, 2012 6:08pm PT by Alex Ben Block
'Good Morning America' Afternoon Spinoff Might Tap Different Hosts
ABC News is rushing to determine just what its upcoming Good Morning America spinoff -- GMA In the Afternoon -- will look like, and appears it might not be a mirror image of its mother show.
ABC is considering handing hosting duties of the afternoon version to people other than Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, the regular lead hosts of Good Morning America. The most likely candidates are Laura Spencer and Josh Elliott, who regularly sit on the GMA couch alongside Roberts and Stephanopoulos in secondary roles.
Spencer, who previously hosted the syndicated show The Insider, is the lifestyle anchor on the show, which means she handles pop culture reporting and other items that aren’t considered hard, breaking news.
As news anchor, Elliott files news reports and fills in for the main hosts as needed. He and Spencer and both joined GMA in March 2011.
The afternoon version of the show will run from July, when The Chew ends, through the September launch of the Katie Couric-hosted Katie. According to an ABC spokesperson, GMA in the Afternoon will be taped immediately following the regular GMA telecast, which ends at 9 a.m. EST weekdays . Although it will share the same studio, producers, writers and crew as GMA, it is unknown if it will have a similar budget.
What is known is that the afternoon GMA is expected to specialize in lighter fare, such as entertainment and lifestyle reports, which might lend itself more to Spencer than Elliott as the lead anchor.
It is also unclear if it will feature Couric as a way to showcase her before the Sept. 10 launch of her high-profile talk show.
GMA will decide on a case-by-case basis if it will do extended interviews with big-name morning guests to provide additional material for airing during the afternoon version. It will depend on the guest, the topic and their availability.
NBC's Today already airs an hour longer than GMA, using different hosts and a stronger focus on lifestyle and issues of interest to women. However, that airs in the morning (9 to 10 a.m., when ABC stations typically switch to Live! With Kelly), while the GMA extension will air later in the day.
The afternoon edition will air at 2 p.m. in the Eastern time zone and at 1 p.m. in most other areas of the country.
One other possible difference: The afternoon edition might call upon ABC News personnel who are not regulars on GMA. That is especially likely to be true if there is major breaking news and the network does extra programming or goes live during the afternoon period.
it was leaders at the ABC Television Network who came to ABC News and then to GMA with the idea of doing the afternoon version for about nine weeks. The popular morning show’s producers were happy to accommodate the idea as a way to extend their franchise.
“This is a great opportunity to give more exposure to the show and attract new viewers," said the ABC spokesperson.
This comes at a time when GMA has narrowed the gap with Today for the morning ratings lead after many years of effort. The afternoon show is seen as another way to promote the GMA brand and to reach viewers who might not be available in the morning or who historically have watched Today or other shows.