Mika Brzezinski has become something of a poster child for navigating the rocky terrain of being a working mother.
After three best-selling books — the most recent, 2013’s Obsessed, explores her struggles with food and body image — Joe Scarborough’s able foil is expanding her brand on MSNBC with a series of conferences and her own female-focused half-hour on Morning Joe. The latter has been up and running unofficially at 8:30 a.m. for several weeks.
Guests booked for March include D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Bobbi Brown and Arianna Huffington. And in April Brzezinski will hit the road with a series of conferences that dovetail with her book Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You Want. The Know Your Value Tour will kick off in Philadelphia, followed by Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston and Orlando, and feature panels of experts, keynotes and workshops designed to help women achieve the lives they want — at home and in the workplace.
The tour will be featured on MSNBC and also will have a robust internet extension (msnbc.com/know-your-value) that will include video streams of the conferences.
Last year, Morning Joe was overtaken by CNN’s New Day, which has bested Joe in the adults 25-54 demographic for seven months. CNN recently taunted the show with a full-page ad in The New York Times, but Scarborough brushes off the competition: “The people who watch our show run the world.”
Brzezinski and Scarborough reveal how the new segment came together, the ratings race and booking high-profile guests.
Hollywood Reporter: How did the 8:30 segment evolve?
Brzezinski: It was Joe’s idea and something we’ve been talking about for years in different ways. Knowing Your Value really resonated, and still people come up and talk to me about it: the impact of women’s success, women breadwinners, on their lives and relationships.
Scarborough: Everywhere we went people would go, “Let Mika talk more!” So we have really reversed roles here. Mika runs it, [and] I’m Mika’s sidekick. This is a great format for her to own, to grow, and one that she didn’t ask for, [but] one that [executive producer] Alex [Korson] and I wanted her to take on because we knew how great she is.
Why didn’t you want it?
Brzezinski: We actually had different ideas for the half-hour, and I didn’t think of myself [for it], which is funny because now I am asking women who get promotions, “How did you do it? Did you step up and ask for it?” This is just something that evolved and seemed like we needed to do it; it’s interesting and it’s time. These conversations keep popping up. We’re meeting more and more women who are confronting these issues.
There are several female panel shows in daytime now. Are you mindful of differentiating what you’re doing?
Brzezinski: It’s going to be a challenge, and we’re a work in progress and we’ll be transparent about that. I think the risk is to pander and to go for the low-hanging fruit and to do stuff that’s talky. We want to address substantial issues that impact women.
Scarborough: [At 8:30] Mika is coming on and she’s running it and I’m either in the control room or I’m her co-host. And we’ll have more of a focus on women’s issues, but it has to be consistent with the smart talk that we have the first two and a half hours.