‘King Charles’ uses color to showcase two big-name hosts

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CNN’s latest entry in new programming, “King Charles,” Nov. 29, 2023, with a blend of glassy reflections, cityscapes and a violet and gold palette that doubles as a way to showcase its two co-hosts.

The pre-taped show hosted by Gayle King and Charles Barkley is running Wednesdays at 10 p.m. “through 2024,” though a special airing is planned for 9 p.m. eastern on Dec. 6, 2023. 

The show is produced from Studio 19Y at CNN’s Hudson Yards studios, with home base positioned opposite the side typically used for the “CNN This Morning” anchor desk.

The studio includes scenery on all four walls and originally debuted in 2019 for the network’s then-morning show “New Day.” 

The part used by “King Charles,” meanwhile, was originally home to “Cuomo Prime Time” until the show was canceled. 

Like the rest of the studio, this side is wrapped in faux brick walls and metal columns as well as multiple seamless video walls designed to appear as windows.

“King Charles” does not use the grid-like scenic element that was previously part of Cuomo’s background, but does make use of the vertical LED video tower that was previously placed behind that movable scenic element. Dimensional lettering with Cuomo show title that could be flown in is likewise not used.

The show uses a bold, condensed sans serif font for its logo with gold and violet used extensively throughout its look. Select elements make use of a rippled glass texture, often placed in front of other elements, including bright lights.

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The words “King” and “Charles” are stacked on top of each other, with “King” in gold and “Charles” in violet. King’s first name is tucked in above her last name in smaller type, while Barkley’s surname gets similar treatment below.

The simulated glass is also used on the studio’s video wall “windows” to partially obscure the cityscape behind it, which has been tinted violet and gold in places.

Also included in the video wall graphics are simulated mullions, including ones splashed with violet light.

The LED video tower is used to display both topical and branded graphics. 

Likewise, the studio lighting has been shifted toward a violet and gold scheme, with the brick tinted purple and integrated accent lighting shifted to yellow.

King and Barkley both sit on chunky armchairs in matching gold and violet fabric. King sits on the gold one, matching the color her name uses in the show graphics, while Barkley is on the violet one.

Additional matching armchairs can be brought in for guests and positioned in an alternating pattern. 

The home base is set up on top of the studio’s square riser with inlaid video tiles. The three segments of the installation feature gold glints to the left, a neutral center with the initialism “KC” and violet on the right. That arrangement puts King on top of the gold floor and Barkley on the violet.

The show’s opening sequence is in a mix of black and white and color with violet and gold tints applied. It includes King and Barkley mingling with crowds in Hudson Yards with brief snippets of current event and pop culture conversations incorporated. 

King and Barkley are introduced along with a preview of the upcoming guests, whose names and photos are integrated into city-inspired surfaces such as a taxi topper, near a crosswalk and subway station walls in an approach similar to late night talk shows. 

The two-toned approach is carried through to the show’s animated elements, including bumps in the same scheme with the names “King” and “Charles” similarly placed in separate colored segments. The words “Gayle” and “Barkley” are also used in larger form as a sort of accent element.

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When “CNN This Morning” launched in 2022, it used Studio 19X down the hall. At the time, the network said that show would eventually moved to its own set, but that never happened and the show moved back to 19Y. 

“King Charles” should not be confused with the current British monarch of the same name. Barkley is sometimes referred to as “Sir Charles” in popular culture. 

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