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MSNBC Gives Rachel Maddow Summer Fridays Off, Sends Richard Engel ‘On Assignment’

Deadline logo Deadline 7/2/2017 Dade Hayes
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MSNBC is giving Rachel Maddow summer Fridays off and airing a newly refashioned version of field-reported magazine show On Assignment hosted by veteran foreign correspondent Richard Engel.

On Assignment with Richard Engel is being billed in on-air promos as a “special series.” It is slated to premiere at 9 PM on Friday, July 7.

Maddow’s show has surged in the ratings this year, finishing the second quarter as the most-watched cable news show in the key news demo. The host was out sick for two weeks about a month ago but has since returned. For the network, giving Engel top billing on Friday nights both rewards a valued and pedigreed NBC personality and also ensures that one of its biggest stars (Maddow) gets plenty of rest heading into the fall.

A previous news program called On Assignment used to air on NBC in an iteration “powered by Dateline.” Engel appeared on those programs as recently as last year. The title is also popular with other news organizations – CBS News will roll out a show later this month under an almost identical name as a vehicle for its CBSN streaming service.

Engel has reported from around the world and made headlines in 2012 when he was kidnapped in Syria. Last month, he provided coverage from Moscow during Congressional hearings regarding the ongoing investigation into the Trump Administration’s ties with Russia.

Here is an On Assignment segment from 2016 in which Engel got up close with a baby chimpanzee in the Congo. After reporting on the threat of poachers in the area, he ended up rescuing an orphaned chimp.

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