CNN’s new boss told staffers that on-air talent won’t be able to booze it up when the ball drops on Dec. 31 to ring in 2023, although the yearly shindig’s hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper will be exempt from the ban.
The left-leaning cable network’s new CEO Chris Licht told employees at a town hall meeting at the network’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters earlier this week that on-camera drinking damaged CNN’s credibility in the eyes of viewers, according to a Variety report which cited unnamed CNN staffers.
The clampdown comes after CNN personalities like Don Lemon got demonstrably tipsy and boozy during New Year’s Eve festivities.
Lemon’s antics have earned him viral status on social media. One year, he got his ear pierced live on the air after the ball dropped. During another broadcast, an inebriated Lemon declared himself to be a “grown-a– man” who was “able to share my point of view on television and it freaks people out and you know what.”
“You can kiss my behind, I do not care. I don’t care,” Lemon said.
Cohen sounded defiant on Wednesday, vowing not to dial down the drunken debauchery in Times Square despite past New Year’s Eve embarrassments.
“Guys, come in tight,” Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve sidekick told his camera operator during Wednesday’s broadcast of his popular Bravo gabfest “Watch What Happens Live.”
“I just want you to know that Anderson and I are going to party harder than we have ever partied before on New Year’s Eve!” an energized Cohen told viewers as his WWHL guests applauded with approval.
On Wednesday, Cohen played a clip of the previous New Year’s Eve broadcast in which he says “Sayonara, sucka” to his sobriety. The “Sayonara, sucka” comment was actually part of Cohen’s rant against then-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“[I’ve been] watching Mayor de Blasio do his ‘victory lap’ dance after four years of the crappiest job as the mayor of New York,” Cohen said during last year’s broadcast.
“The only thing that the Democrats and the Republicans can agree on is what a horrible mayor he has been, so sayonara, sucka!”
The Bravo host was later quoted as saying that he “did not recall” going on his anti-de Blasio rant because of all the drinking he did.
This year’s New Year’s Eve broadcast will be the first of the Licht era, which began earlier this year after the unceremonious departure of his predecessor, Jeff Zucker.
Licht’s recent town hall, which was moderated by CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, left staffers worried about their future after the boss made clear that the network will announce another round of layoffs in early December.
The network has been forced to tighten its belt as part of a mandate handed down by its corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery.