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CNN's Don Lemon Leaving Prime Time for New Morning Show Project

CNN's Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins

The prominent out CNN anchor was tapped to revamp CNN's morning lineup in an attempt to attract more viewers.

One of CNN's most prominent gay anchors is leaving his evening slot to cohost a new morning show.

On Thursday, the network announced that Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins would be the new faces of a redesigned and yet unnamed new morning show.

The morning show will take on a new format, name, and set. CNN currently airs New Day from 6 to 9 a.m. The new show is expected to air before the midterm election in mid-October.

"There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy, and Kaitlan to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program," CNN Worldwide Chairman and CEO Chris Licht said. "They are each uniquely intelligent, reliable, and compelling; together they have a rare and palpable chemistry. Combined with CNN's resources and global newsgathering capabilities, we will offer a smart, bold, and refreshing way to start the day."

Licht is the second consecutive morning television personality to lead CNN, and morning programming will be his first big challenge, as it was for his predecessor, Jeff Zucker.

"The last eight years have been an incredible ride. I've had the opportunity to work with one of the best show teams in the business, but it's time to shake things up. I am so appreciative of the Don Lemon Tonight team, my wonderful, loyal viewers, and everyone who has believed in me," said Lemon, who has been with CNN since 2006. The prominent out anchor has been hosting his prime-time show since 2014.

"I was honestly floored when Chris Licht asked me to do this, and I'm honored by his belief in me," he continued. "It's going to be a thrill to take on this challenge with Poppy and Kaitlan. I'll get to work with two of my dearest friends. Set your alarms folks, because we're going to have a lot of fun."

Lemon, an award-winning journalist, has recently had a string of successes that lend the network's leadership confidence in him.

Lemon was hosting his evening show during the initiation of Russia's war in Ukraine in February, bringing viewers into the heart of the action.

In March, a federal judge in New York ordered Dustin Hice, the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Lemon, to pay the CNN star $77,000 in lawyers' fees for noncompliance with court rules. Hice had claimed Lemon assaulted him.

In May, weeks before the case was to go to trial, Hice withdrew the lawsuit, claiming he misremembered the night's events. Then, as the case unraveled while preparing to go to trial, several witnesses recanted their previous statements and switched from Hice's side to Lemon's.

After the development, Lemon did not comment, but his attorney Caroline Polisi told The Advocate at the time that Hice was engaged in an opportunistic shakedown.

Along with Lemon, Harlow and Collins sounded encouraged about the new venture when the show premieres.

Since 2008, Harlow has been an anchor at the network. She has moderated two presidential town halls for CNN and anchored breaking news coverage from the field for significant events such as the Boston Marathon bombings and the Paris terror attacks.

"What a gift to be able to sit beside Don and Kaitlan each morning," Harlow said in the announcement. "Don has been one of my closest friends for more than a decade -- there for every milestone along the way. I'm consistently in awe of Kaitlan's reporting and the remarkable woman she is."

Harlow added, "I can't wait to laugh with them and learn from them each morning."

A breakout star reporter at CNN, Kaitlan Collins will now serve as co-anchor and chief correspondent for the morning show after becoming CNN's youngest-ever chief White House correspondent at 29. Her hard questions directed at former President Donald Trump have made her one of the nation's most recognizable journalists since joining CNN in 2017.

"I am thrilled to start this new adventure at CNN and work alongside Don and Poppy, two colleagues I deeply admire," Collins said. "To go from sharing my reporting on their shows to sitting at the desk alongside them is an incredible opportunity, and I'm deeply humbled by it. I'm so grateful to Chris and CNN for building something truly special. I can't wait to wake with our viewers and do the news every day. So pour a cup of coffee and join us!"

New Day anchors John Berman and Brianna Keilar will continue to anchor the show for a time but will take on new roles at the network later this year. The network indicated it would announce more details in the coming weeks.

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