‘The Don Lemon Show’ CNN+ talker slices out a unique look with a twist

CNN+ launched its weekly talk-show style program “The Don Lemon Show” with a brutalist look that features a bold mix of colors that includes a “sliced” approach to animation.

Likely thanks to Lemon’s name, the show’s graphics package uses a bright yellow as one of its primary colors, which is accented with a mix of teal, blue, white and black. 

These colors appear in both the typography, which is often stretched and reversed out in the open, as well as animated rectangular elements that expand and contract while moving around the screen, a theme that is also applied to the lettering.

Monochromatic photography of Lemon is featured in the open as are various interpretations of the initials “DL,” some of which are nested inside of each other.

The logo itself includes the words “Don” and “Lemon” set in a thick typeface with the upper half of the letters sliced off and moved above and the lower portion of the name similarly presented below. Meanwhile, the word “Show” is turned 90-degrees clockwise and placed in its own box.

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For remote guests, a boxed layout featured a looping animation of rectangular elements in multiple colors sliding around the in front of a black background.

Lower third inserts mirror the rectangular layout and are placed in the lower-left corner of the screen.

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The yellow, black and white layout included both entrance and exit animations that echo those in the open and fullscreens and also included the “sliced text” effect on names appearing briefly. A second tier with decidedly lighter weight text was also available. 

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The show is produced from Studio 19X, a flexible, multipurpose space inside the network’s New York City facility at 30 Hudson Yards that was designed by Clickspring Design.

An exploded view of Studio 19X courtesy of Clickspring Design that shows the various tracking and other scenic elements that can be rearranged to create a myriad of unique looks.

Much of the space is wrapped in backlit color-changing scrim. There’s also a two-track system installed in the ceiling that allows 14 segments of LED move around the space in a variety of configurations in both an oval-like and rectangular path.

19X was also originally designed to accommodate a studio audience in a variety of configurations, which Lemon’s team had filled with people with connections to Ukraine, the subject of the first episode April 15, 2022.

For “Lemon,” CNN relegated the audience to one side of the studio and used the nearly 15-foot circular riser with the four added lightbox extensions squaring it off as the primary location for Lemon to interact with guests.

Three of the LED units are placed behind this with two lightbox walls with metallic frames flanking either side. The scrim is colored in a rich purple gradient. 

CNN brought in a white armchair for Lemon and curved sofa for guests as well as metallic and white side tables. Yellow and teal throw pillows complete the look.

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The LED panels in the space display a colorful collection of rectangular patterns topped with blue light splashed on the off-white headers while the wild towers with three vertically mounted video panels outlined with color changing frames are placed strategically to appear behind Lemon and guest one-shots, which have their rounded corner frames illuminated in violet.

These panels featured variations of the “DL” look along with a simplified version of the show logo.

Lemon could also venture into the audience for reactions and questions, which showed a traditional seating layout with some risers surrounded by additional segments of the tracking LED video walls arranged around the space along with purple illuminated scrim.

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The lit reveal lines in the solid scenic walls that help disguise the entrance to the studio are set to teal, a nod to the show’s graphics package.

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While the show does use a variety of wide views, the square lighting elements in the ceiling that appear in other CNN NYC spaces are not prominently featured.

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