Fareed Zakaria by Justin Larose/CNN
Watch any TV news roundtable with Newsweek International
editor Fareed Zakaria
and you can be sure the discussion will have some nutritious calories. Now Zakaria has got his own roundtable. Starting June 1 at 1 p.m. ET on CNN, he'll host Fareed Zakaria - GPS
, a weekly hour devoted to international affairs (the initials stand for global public square). Each Sunday, the show will include a 25-minute interview with an important world player (former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the first guest). Zakaria recently shared his global wisdom with The Biz. TVGuide.com: How many people have asked you why you're naming your show Global Positioning System?
] You know what, you're the first. Let me put it this way: One of the attractions of the name was the fact that it had a groovy acronym. We're trying to prove that international affairs can be hip and cool. TVGuide.com: So you're embracing the dual meaning.
Yes. You'll see with the graphics we embrace it. TVGuide.com: You're a go-to guest when news shows want analysis of global issues. Did you have to be talked into being locked into a show every week?
Yeah. For me the part that made it attractive was that I could construct my own show and do something that would have some impact. I love being a guest on other shows, but this is ultimately more fulfilling. The one show that I will continue to be a guest on is The Daily Show
with Jon Stewart, if he'll have me. It's not competitive with CNN and it's too much fun. TVGuide.com: You're always yourself on The Daily Show. You don't try to be funny. You deliver the same kind of information that we see you provide in other venues. You let Stewart do the jokes.
Precisely. If you think of something funny, you go with it. But people who come there with canned jokes, it's a disaster. Jon Stewart is funnier than you. He's also very intelligent. You can have an intelligent conversation with him and he'll figure out how to make it funny. TVGuide.com: You've been ranked in a couple of places as one of the top intellectuals in the world. How do you be an intellectual on television today when everything tends to be quick and dumb?
I'm going to try. That's part of the challenge here. When I talked to [CNN chief] Jon Klein about the show I said I would want it to be a different show than some of the other stuff on CNN. He was receptive to the idea of a show that would be more thoughtful and more deliberative. The centerpiece of the show is going to be a 25-minute interview - a one-on-one conversation. I think that in a sense sets the tone. I think there's a way to make conversation and analysis compelling. TV Guide.com: How do you get viewers to care more about international news?
Things happening around the world are affecting you and me. The connection is not drawn very clearly. One of my challenges is to draw that connection better. During the Cold War, we were interested because we were scared that Russia and the United States were going to go to war. We were scared that Russia was going to take over the world. Every country became a battleground. [Today] people are trying to scare us about terrorism. But one sign that we don't think this threat is on the same order is that it isn't taking. The thing that scared us most about the Soviets was the ideological threat - the idea that the world could be seduced by their alternate vision of how to order society. No one thinks the Islamic fundamentalists have a compelling alternate vision. We're not as engaged and interested. We're interested enough that we want to beat up bad guys. But we're not interested enough to find out what's going on in Pakistan, why is there an interest or rise in the Taliban. That's my challenge, to get people interested in the world without being scared of it. TVGuide.com: Your new book, The Post-American World, examines the idea that the days of United States being the dominant super power in the world are dwindling. Other countries are catching up in so many different ways. This might not be a popular notion with the cable news audience. Have you been confronted much about this idea when you go on these shows to talk about it?
I'm surprised at how little push back I've gotten. What I'm describing is really happening around the world. You can see it palpably when you travel. I think most Americans feel it even sitting here. I think you can draw what conclusion you want from it, but the fact that we are going through this historic shift. I don't get a lot of push back on that fundamental fact.