Sean Hannity prepares to fly solo on Fox
Says he remains open-minded about Obama administrationNEW YORK -- Three days before the premiere of his self-titled Fox News Channel program, Sean Hannity is in motion.
On Friday morning, Hannity was boarding the shuttle to New York City from a trip this week to Washington, where he interviewed President Bush and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain. The interviews will air during the first and second weeks of the new show, which begins Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. He's going to do his three-hour radio show and the last "Hannity & Colmes" later that day.
What should viewers expect from Hannity, where they'll get their daily dose of the conservative talk show host who is going to be without Alan Colmes in the time slot for the first time in 12 years?
"It's going to be fun," promised Hannity.
Not that Hannity isn't used to being a solo act. He's got a very popular syndicated radio show and, for the past two years, "Hannity's America" has played weekends on the Fox News Channel.
"This is not new territory for me," Hannity said. "But the format and the show itself will be entirely different."
The first big change will be the absence of a co-host on the left, which is evident by the name change. But Hannity said that another big change that viewers will see is the fact that the new show will have more time in general.
"I'm really excited by the fact that we don't have to rush through guests," he told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday. "We'll be able to go into far more depth with the topics, especially the more serious topics."
The first segments will continue to be the news of the day and a newsmaker interview. "We're going to continue to do the big interviews, that's not going to change," he said.
There's plenty going on afterward too: Monday will see the start of "The Great American Panel," which will be 16 minutes of talk with a conservative, liberal and what the show calls the "X Factor." That's someone who has opinions but don't fit into the traditional boxes. Monday's show will be Rep. Michelle Bachman on the right, Al Sharpton on the left and the singer Meat Loaf as the X Factor.
"(The X Factor) will be people you don't normally see on cable news," Hannity said. "We're looking for passionate and opinionated people who have strong opinions." He wants to keep the future X Factors as surprises.
Another segment will ported from the radio show, the "Hate Hannity Hotline." That's where frustrated liberals get to talk back to the conservative talk show host ... and Hannity doesn't say a word in his defense.
"I do it as a public service," Hannity jokes.
Not that Hannity is going to shrink from his conservative worldview and opinions, even with a November election that comfortably put Barack Obama into the White House and a Democratic-controlled Senate and House of Representatives. He points out that 57 million Americans cast votes for McCain.
"This is an incredible time in our nation's history and as a fiscal and social conservative ... I won't be hesitant to share my views with my audience," he says.
He remains open-minded about the Obama administration, particularly when it comes to possible tax cuts. But if there's a move to start what Hannity calls a "new welfare program and call it a tax cut," then he's going to explain that. Or with $1 trillion in new spending possible, Hannity promises to examine every dollar proposed.
"That's the type of depth that we can really get into with the new format," Hannity said.