‘CNN Tonight’ goes gold in its return to network as Cuomo replacement

Following the high profile ouster of Chris Cuomo as primetime anchor on CNN, the network opted to replace his 9 p.m. program “Cuomo Prime Time” under the name “CNN Tonight” — but did some minor color updates to the look most recently used under that program title.

Michael Smerconish is anchoring the block the week of Dec. 6, 2021, with future hosts to be determined, and appeared in a tight shot with a cityscape background that has a decidedly gold hue to the building lights. 

It’s not dissimilar from the background Cuomo used during his time, when the show typically originated from Studio 19Y in the network’s New York City studios inside of Hudson Yards. The cityscape behind Cuomo was created using a seamless video wall. 

Cuomo’s background, however, had different composition and set of buildings and also incorporated structural tinted panels that were placed in front of the LED for his show, along with a large dimension logo above.

CNN airs “Don Lemon Tonight” immediately following Cuomo’s old timeslot at 10 p.m. eastern. His show was originally known as “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” before branding as “Don Lemon Tonight.”

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At the time, it continued to use mostly the same graphics and general look and feel for the logo, though Lemon has used a city background less focused on buildings for some time, though the rest of his show graphics used a look that’s most carried over from its time as “Tonight” — using a blend of blues, greens and warmer accents to form stylized skylines along with more abstract blurs of light.

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The show logo has been switched to a more dramatic angle and also appears larger relative to other elements. The gold tones of light from the building “windows” tend to blend in more with the dark background, so the color palette isn’t nearly as vibrant as Lemon’s or the previous version of “Tonight.”

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The design also borrows the vertical bars of light from the previous “CNN Tonight” look but uses it more as a reveal for the logo rather than an accent to one side of the logotype.

“Don Lemon” originates from Studio 19Z on the same floor as “Cuomo Prime Time” did.

The December 2021 version of “CNN Tonight” uses the same logo as before. The show didn’t use a formal open, instead transitioning directly from “Anderson Cooper 360” via a handoff, but there are background graphics behind the box layouts as well as a stinger-style bump animation.

The bump also includes a serious musical bed and is accented with a sound effect that’s similar to what “Lemon” uses.

It makes sense that CNN would update its “Tonight” to look a bit since that design has essentially been absorbed by “Don Lemon Tonight.”

However, having some continuity between the two makes a certain amount of sense as well, given that they air back to back and that “CNN Tonight” is, at least as of now, only a temporary show.

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