At a party at the Canadian consulate generalâ€™s residence, Pat Kiernan, NY1 morning anchor and pride of Alberta, is confessing to some un-Canadian ambition. Specifically, he wants Regis Philbinâ€™s job once Philbin is done with it at the end of this season.
He knows heâ€™ll have competitionâ€”soap star turned Âreality-TV fixture Lisa Rinna has allegedly been trying to angle herself into contention. But Kiernan, who has apparently thought this through, is counting on an advantage. â€œThere are people in New York City who have Time Warner Cable and people who donâ€™t,â€ he says. And so long as the Live! With Regis and Kelly producers are among the former, theyâ€™ll have at least seen his work, which, as any Time Warner customer knows, has a way of being unmissable. â€œIf they turn off their cable box and turn it back on, it comes to NY1. And if they do that in the morning, there I am.â€ A plan is taking shape. â€œI need to sneak into the Time ÂWarner Cable offices and find out if Kelly Ripa has it. If so, I hope sheâ€™s a fan.â€
As NY1â€™s morning anchor since 1997, the 42-year-old Kiernan has gained a lot of those. Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers are on record as Pat Kiernan people. Gawker has called him â€œunironically beloved,â€ not a label Gawker uses lightly. This winter, the people at The Daily Show tweeted their love for Kiernanâ€™s strangely satisfying â€œIn the Papersâ€ segment, which basically consists of Kiernan sitting at his anchor desk and pointing out the most interesting stories in that dayâ€™s newsÂpapers, one at a time. They now call this â€œnews curation,â€ and fortunes can be made on it. â€œIâ€™m not claiming ownership of the concept, like Al Gore and the Internet,â€ says Kiernan, â€œbut I was ahead of my time.â€
With the jazz stylings of Canadian pianist Renee Rosnes not proving ideal for conversation, a consular staffer leads us into a sitting room where Lewis Laphamâ€”father-in-law to a daughter of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroneyâ€”used to smoke when that kind of thing was still allowed. Settling into an armchair, Kiernan continues his pitch. â€œLive! is a combination of the two things I have done in my career. One, itâ€™s a show about New York City. Regis and Kelly have never tried to pretend theyâ€™re not in New York. Instead, they try to be inclusive about it. And two, it has an obsession with pop culture. Iâ€™ve hosted three different game shows, including the World Series of Pop Culture on VH1. Live! is a rare intersection of my two specialties.â€
One of the other game shows Kiernan hosted was Grand Slam on the Game Show Network. â€œIâ€™m really good at reading questions, even though I know that sounds ridiculous. In a matter of seconds, I had to listen to the answers, adjudicate the responses, and announce the score. If you get that wrong, you ruin the show. It might have been the hardest thing I have ever done.â€ On TV? â€œIn life,â€ Kiernan replies.
Kiernan knows what heâ€™s not suited for. The Price Is Right, for one. â€œBob Barker had this ability to really feel the contestantsâ€™ enthusiasm,â€ he says. â€œIâ€™m a little more dispassionate.â€ The Ânational morning shows also donâ€™t necessarily interest him. â€œWhy would I go to CBS to be on The Early Show? How many hosts have they had in the nearly fourteen years Iâ€™ve been on NY1? Letâ€™s try to count: Bryant Gumbel, the lady who sat next to ÂBryant ÂGumbel, Jane Clayson, Harry Smith with the three women. Why would I leave my franchise at NY1 to be another cog in the wheel?â€
At this point, a reporter for Reuters opens the door to the room and introduces himself to ÂKiernan. More un-ÂCanadian-ness: â€œYou might have read a few of my stories,â€ the reporter tells him.
â€œLook, my goal is not to be a 60 Minutes correspondent,â€ Kiernan continues. â€œIâ€™ve had fun hosting game shows and fun making snow angels on the roof of NY1, like we did this winter. Thatâ€™s why Live! is so appealing. There is tremendous range on that show.â€ Also, the hours would be slightly better. Kiernan has been on-set at NY1 at 4 A.M. every weekday for the past thirteen years. â€œThatâ€™s a lot of mornings to be waking up early.â€ When he signed a contract extension with NY1 in November, he negotiated himself an out. (â€œThere is freedom for me to leave to do â€¦ national programming,â€ he explains.)
Kiernanâ€™s to-do list, then: (1) Get a tryout as a weeklong co-host on Live! (2) Convince his bosses that he still values his current job.
The party is drawing to a close. â€œI donâ€™t want to be disloyal to NY1,â€ he says. â€œI love that gig. But I went into it thinking it was a stepping-stone. I ran into some guy in a Borders recently who said, â€˜Pat Kiernan! I grew up watching you!â€™ I thought: Oh my God! Thereâ€™s a generation that has grown up watching me? It might be time to explore new Âopportunities.â€
Pat Kiernan’s New York Diet
Have good intel? Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.