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Brian Williams will be the host of a new newsmagazine show on NBC.
Brian Williams will be the host of a new newsmagazine show on NBC. Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
When news broke yesterday that NBC was calling its new newsmagazine show Rock Center With Brian Williams, it was difficult not to question the choice. Of course, as you know if you've ever done it, naming high-profile projects is a time of pure joy matched only by the pleasures of having all your teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthesia. You can't really win, either — you call your Katie Couric show something simple like Katie, and everybody makes fun of you. You try to add a little pizzazz, like ... oh, I don't know, like Rock Center With Brian Williams, and everyone still makes fun of you.
Maybe it's the fact that NBC already has a show named after the building that houses it, and it seems like perhaps they don't need two. Maybe it's the fact that when I actually worked in Rockefeller Center, I never heard anyone call it "Rock Center." Maybe it's the fact that I am suspicious of anything plotted by NBC Universal that seems calculated to convey coolness. Maybe it's the fact that I can't stop envisioning guys in suits yelling "RAWK!" and flashing devil horns at each other.
Or maybe it's the fact that I envision Brian Williams himself hearing this title, smiling ruefully, and saying, "All right, gentlemen."
Here's the thing: Brian Williams may be one of a very few actually cool people working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza anymore. He's been funny on 30 Rock, funny slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon, and funny hosting Saturday Night Live. NBC doesn't have a lot of cool to burn, and nothing kills cool quite like standing a guy up in front of a title that announces that he's cool.
Like ... Rock Center.
I haven't actually been wishing there were a newsmagazine that could get funky, and I have a feeling that's what they're trying to give me. They're trying to give me funky news, or what a bunch of dudes on a conference call think is funky news, and Brian Williams deserves better.