Jeff Probst will try to outwit, outplay and outlast his opponents on the island of daytime talk shows. The Jeff Probst Show begins Monday at 2 p.m. on Global, with Katie, starring Katie Couric following at 3 on City and  The Ricki Lake Show at 4 back at Global. Anderson Cooper launches his second season, re-branded Anderson Live, on CTV at 5 p.m. The Chicago-based Steve Harvey Show began last week (it airs at 4 p.m. on Buffalo’s WNLO). The View, The Talk, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Ellen DeGeneres are all back or coming back soon.
They’re all still chasing the turf Oprah Winfrey left a year ago.
Probst was at the TCA summer press tour and talked up the super “party room” he had built for his studio audience on the way into his Los Angeles studio tapings. “Imagine a room where you have music pumping through it that’s equipped with massage chairs and makeover stations and social media and great snacks and a photo booth,” said Probst, who wants his audience to feel welcome and spread the word.
He says he got the idea from the way Jimmy Kimmel makes studio guests feel welcome. He also raved about Jimmy Fallon’s green room.
There was a lot of talk at the Probst press conference about the set, how it has been designed to allow Probst easy access to the 134 people out front.
All this is well and good but it makes me nervous. As important as it is to have a good set, never talk about it with the press beforehand. It is almost always the kiss of death.
I remember a Canadian talk show host bragging about how he had Madonna’s lighting guy illuminating his set. Better he should have had Madonna on as a guest.
Probst is such a positive force in person you can’t help but cheer him on, however, and he does show a knack for engaging both guests and audiences during those Survivor town hall after shows. Plus, if you’re heading to Los Angeles, it does sound like you’ll be pampered if you attend one of his tapings. For more on his new series, follow this link the feature I wrote for the Toronto Star.
Both Couric and Lake were brought north last June to promote their upcoming talk shows during the Canadian network upfronts. Both face as many challenges from themselves as from their timeslot rivals. Couric has to convince viewers she’s daytime Katie, their old Today Show pal, not so much the CBS news anchor. Lake was the 20-something who had an 11-year run in daytime as her generation’s talk show host. She turns 44 in a week or two, which still makes her younger than 50-somethings Probst, Couric, DeGeneres and others, but still a long way from being the chubby kid from Hairspray.

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