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The Daily News Box

News and Entertainment

CBS News is rebuilding MTV’s old ‘TRL’ studio for election night

ByReiss Bowler

Oct 15, 2020

NEW YORK (AP) – Beware Britney Spears and the Jonas Bros.: CBS News is building a new high-tech election night at the Times Square studio where MTV’s “Total Request Live” ruled the music world two decades ago.

The set, at the ViacomCBS headquarters on Broadway, highlights modern wizardry such as “augmented reality” 3-D visuals and multiple data screens, while providing plenty of space to protect staff from COVID-19 contamination, the network said Thursday.

Norah O’Donnell will anchor her first presidential election night, joined on set by Gayle King, Margaret Brennan, John Dickerson and Ed O’Keefe.

“We are empowering our top political journalists with the latest data visualization and storytelling tools to bring as much clarity as possible to these elections,” said Susan Zirinsky, president of CBS News.

Studios in New York and Hollywood often have multiple lives, and it can be interesting to find out their history. In the early 2000s, music’s best performers traveled to 1515 Broadway to chat with host Carson Daly and watch for fans gathering in Times Square below. The original incarnation of the show ended in 2008.

Shadows will be drawn on the windows for serious election night. For television networks there is no greater night to show off their wares than presidential elections. CBS declined to say how much it spent to retrofit the new studio.

The coronavirus, which has driven millions of American workers into home offices, added to the challenge of creating the new studio, said David Bohrman, executive producer of the election night coverage.

Anyone entering the studio to prepare for the election should be tested for the coronavirus every day, he said.

The network’s CBSN streaming service will provide continuous election coverage starting Nov. 3 at 7:00 a.m. On television, CBS will have Major Garrett report on the integrity of the voters, Jeff Pegues on misinformation and Nancy Cordes on conference games. Anthony Salvanto will lead the decision desk, while Reince Prebius and Valerie Jarrett will be commentators.