Big Ticket Television
Larry Lyttle, the president of Viacom-owned studio Big Ticket Television, came very close to developing a syndicated talk show with comedian/actress Caroline Rhea two years ago.
But the timing wasn't right, and Lyttle, whose studio produces Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown
and a number of prime time series, decided not to go forward with the project and all but gave up on the idea until last February.
"I went up to the Aspen Comedy Festival where Caroline was the lead act one night," says Lyttle. "The women in the room loved her. I then realized this woman had the chops to be a major star in daytime TV. I went back to her soon after, and we reopened our dialogue. A few months later, we had a deal."
Rhea, who is also a fixture on Hollywood Squares
and has hosted a number of prime time specials recently, says former NBC stalwart Johnny Carson and the late Dinah Shore are big role models for her and that her one-hour talk show will try to emulate what she calls a big reason for their success: allowing the guests to shine.
Each episode of the show will open with Rhea interacting with the studio audience, either with a monologue or in some "chatty" way. Celebrity and expert (cooking, relationship, etc.) guests will be much in evidence and the set has a kitchen.
They won't, however, be allowed to hawk their latest movie or book. "It's a pitch-free zone," says Rhea. "I think there are enough places where celebrities can go and plug their thing."
Studio/Distributor: Big Ticket Television/Paramount Domestic TV
Clearance: 70% U.S.
Debut: Fall 2001