January 11, 2009 / 8:02 PM / 10 years ago

Sean Hannity shaking up new Fox News show

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Barack Obama may be moving into the White House and the Democrats tightening their grip on Congress, but conservative talk show host Sean Hannity is looking on the bright side.

His self-titled Fox News Channel program premieres on Monday, and he hopes some of the 57 million Americans who voted for Republican candidate John McCain will tune in.

“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.

Hannity is flying solo in the 9 p.m. time slot for the first time in 12 years following the departure of his liberal co-host Alan Colmes. Not that he isn’t used to being a solo act. He’s got a 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.”

For starters, viewers will notice 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 doesn’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.

Hannity 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.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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