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Who'll claim Oprah Winfrey's daytime talk throne?

Jeff Probst, Ricki Lake, Katie Couric and Steve Harvey are among the faces vying for the top spot in the already crowded world of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and more.

September 10, 2012|By Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times

"The challenge in doing a new show is finding the truth in that show," said Probst, who added that he felt he could "contribute to the conversation" after becoming a husband and stepfather. "I feel comfortable in doing the show I want to do. I have no idea if anyone will watch it, but that's why you put it on the air."

For Harvey, his truth is humor.

"I've been in the funny business for a long time," said the veteran comedian, whose show will air in top markets on NBC stations, back to back with "The Ellen Degeneres Show." "In terms of funny, you can't really top what we're going to do in daytime. The only person that's funny is Ellen, and I'm going to be her lead-in, so until Ellen comes on, I'm the funniest person on TV."

"Steve Harvey," which is modeled after the bestselling author's books that offer women advice on relationships and dating from a male perspective, launched his show last week to solid ratings. But it's too soon to know whether they'll last, say analysts, with other newcomers coming Monday along with premieres of "Dr. Phil," "Ellen" and "Dr. Oz."

Although the pressure to land boffo numbers has eased over the years, the chances for long-term staying power remain tough.

"In five years, I would say two of the four big names coming out this fall will still be around," said Brad Adgate, an analyst for the ad firm Horizon Media. "It's a pretty strong crop of names, but it's hard to say whether that will translate to viewing power."

If anyone is close to being the next daytime royalty, it might be 69-year-old Judith Sheindlin. The tough-talking "Judge Judy" wrapped last season on top of the daytime ratings mound, averaging around 9.7 million viewers — making it the top syndicated program on daytime TV.

In the talk show realm, Winfrey disciple "Dr. Phil" (Phil McGraw) earned about 4 million viewers each weekday. He's followed by another Winfrey pupil, Mehmet Oz, whose "Dr. Oz Show" averaged about 3.7 million viewers. "Ellen" teetered around 3.2 million viewers.

But if it doesn't work this time around for some in the new bunch, at least they can knock it off a bucket list.

"I think everybody gets a talk show at least once in their life," Lake joked. "It's all the rage. Some of us get them twice."


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