Five — count ‘em — five new talk shows are competing for viewer attention this season – the second wave of the “Who ever can replace Oprah?” quest for the grail that began last year. This week, Steve Harvey launched his new NBC show. September 10 will bring the launches of Katie Couric’s, Ricki Lake’s and Jeff Probst’s chat fests. And come Oct. 1, the Hallmark Channel will bring us Marie Osmond. Of last year’s crop of newbies, Anderson Cooper is still standing tall — while the likes of “The Revolution” are long gone. Who’ll still be among the chat show luminaries next year? Here’s a handicapper to help you figure out where to place your bets.
Harvey has made it clear he’s going to make the most of his comedic gifts to bring the funny to his program, which will feature everyday people and focus on relationships. Never underestimate funny, especially from a comedian sharpened by years of live radio shows.
Couric’s background in news will play into her syndicated show. “The marketing department of ABC came up with ‘smart with heart,’ which I actually thought was a great kind of description of what I would ideally like the show to be,” she told TV critics this summer. Despite talk about the wide range of topics she’d like to cover, indications are that she’s going for the tried-and-true: Big Gets. She’s already lined up Barbra Streisand, “Fifty Shades of Grey” author E.L. James, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson and Heidi Klum. (Just in time to answer that embarrassing comment Seal made about Heidi “fornicating with the help” prior to the breakup of their marriage! Katie’s off and running!)
You might expect some adventure with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst’s talk show on CBS, and so there will be – in a way. “The overall idea of the show is saying yes to the adventures in your life,” he explained. “And I don’t mean climbing a mountain. I mean being married, being a parent, dating, friendships. It’s the courage to kiss somebody before you are ready, or move across the country for a new job, home, school. At the end of a life, this really is what defines our life, those adventures. And that’s the idea behind the show, and we will talk about that all the time.” Probst’s wife, who works on the show, will be around to add her two cents. Oh, and there’s a party room that’s kind of like a green room for the entire audience where they can even have their hair and makeup done to be TV-ready. How that figures into the adventure, we’re not sure, but it’s different.
Ricki Lake, meanwhile, is taking aim at social media, endeavoring to get viewers involved what she hopes will be her second successful talk show. The chat maven who had her first show as a wunderkind in her twenties is now middle-aged, but forward-thinking still. She has been inviting viewers-to-be to join in production meetings on Facebook since March. She’s also all over Twitter.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s Marie Osmond, back on the scene. With “Marie,” Hallmark tells us, “she may finally be growing into a role that fits her better than any other. Here, after all, is a woman who has not only known great fame but also great tragedy.” Indeed, the singer has battled depression, lost a child through suicide, gone through divorce and more, but keeps showing an amazing resilience. Overcoming life’s woes will no doubt be among the themes. Osmond will have everyday people as well as celebrity guests including members of her family, and there are plenty of those. And let’s not forget, Mormons are hot this fall.
Interestingly, Cooper’s show is getting its second season launch Sept. 10, too – now called “Anderson Live,” with such new touches as rotating guest hosts and more live elements, including real-time feedback via Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler.
Who will you watch?