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Functional TV


Nazi biker chicks and senior citizens married to Generation Xers will not be appearing on any of the four syndicated daytime series premiering Monday--unless, perhaps, they're sharing cooking tips or doing a comedy routine.

Thanks to the enormous success of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," dysfunctional daytime TV seems to be out and good clean fun, entertainment and information are in.

"Rosie has clearly shown that there is room for clean TV," says Gayle King, Emmy Award-winning news anchor and Oprah Winfrey's good friend. She appears on the daytime scene as host of "The Gayle King Show."

"Variety and talk are very appealing," says popular KNBC-TV Channel 4 sports anchor Fred Roggin, who hosts the talk-variety series "The Arthel & Fred Show" with Arthel Neville, late of "Extra."

"People who run TV stations want to have a certain image," Roggin says. "It's a kinder, gentler time, and the people who program the TV stations want to have a good feeling about their TV stations. I think that's why these shows are coming back."

Joining "Arthel & Fred" and "The Gayle King Show" this week are "The Home Team With Terry Bradshaw" and "Martha Stewart Living."

Having fun is the main objective of "Arthel & Fred." The hourlong series will feature a live band, celebrity guests and field pieces.

"Because we are both broadcasters, we are of the mind you have to get out there with people," Neville explains.

"We really want our guests to have fun," offers Roggin, who is continuing his sports duties on KNBC. "We are two people who enjoy having fun. We want people to be relaxed and want them to be part of the party."

Martha Stewart, queen of "how-to" TV and publishing, has adapted her former weekend series to weekdays. The daily version "is truly alternative television," she says. "It's an alternative to talk. It's an alternative to junk. That's my objective."

"Martha Stewart Living" will be similar to her old series but will make some adaptations on the theory that the available viewing audience will be much more dominated by women. The daily version, Stewart says, will feature such new segments as tool of the week, cookie of the week and cake of the month. She also is introducing an interactive Web site on the program, so viewers can print out recipes and information while watching the show.

"I'm trying to fill every single minute with information that is valuable and desirable," says Stewart, who built a state-of-the-art studio in Connecticut to produce the series. "The motto of the show is, 'You learn something new every day.' "

"The Gayle King Show" will be following Stewart in most markets, including Los Angeles. "The thinking is that Martha does stuff for your house and Gayle does stuff for the people in your house," says King, who will continue to anchor the 5:30 p.m. newscast at WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn.

Unlike "Arthel & Fred," King's talk show is not celebrity-driven. "I'm convinced you can do a show about normal people," says King, who tapes the program in Hartford. "There aren't any new topics. Every damn thing has been done, so our challenge is presenting it in a way that people will not mind seeing it again."

King will explore a new topic each day. "I'm fascinated by relationships and shows that are oriented toward kids," says the divorced mother of two children. "What I hope is that you will feel comfortable watching it."

Terry Bradshaw, famed Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback and Fox "NFL Sunday" broadcaster, describes his new series as "viewer-friendly. We're noncombative with our guests. Hopefully, when the show is over, the viewer at home has a smile on their face."

The hourlong "Home Team" combines celebrity interviews with informational segments on cooking, health, fitness, home repair and stories of human interest. "Home Team" members include "Ms. Fix It" Kim Gordon and roving reporter Eric Tunney. Bradshaw will also chat, a la Art Linkletter, with kids.

Planet Hollywood also happens to be one of the producers of "Home Team." "Our tie-in with them is to have access to the great numbers of celebrities who are involved with them," says Bradshaw, who won't be relinquishing his "NFL Sunday" duties.

"That doesn't mean we are going to have Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore on every day," Bradshaw says. "Their role is to provide us the people who are part of their stable of celebrities."

Bradshaw, who acknowledges he's still trying to find a "comfortable range" as host, says he could never have done a tabloid daytime show. "I see life through the eyes of a child," he says. "I see nothing but the fun of life."

"Arthel & Fred" airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on KNBC. "Home Team with Terry Bradshaw" airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on KTTV. "Martha Stewart Living" airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on KCBS, with repeats Mondays-through-Thursdays at 2 a.m. and a weekend edition Sundays at 10 a.m. on KCBS. "The Gayle King Show" airs weekdays at 2:30 p.m. on KCBS.

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