Ellen DeGeneres is coming back to television with her own variety/talk strip that will highlight her comedy and her "everywoman" approach to life.
"Ellen is a sensational talent who has spent the past twenty years preparing herself to do this show," says Jim Paratore, executive vice president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television and president of Telepictures Productions.
DeGeneres is so connected to Hollywood royalty that to do a test-drive of the show's concept she called up her friends Tom Hanks, Alanis Morrisette and Helen Hunt, and had them come over to her house to do some sample interviews.
"This show will be the second-best booked show in the business," Paratore says. "She will have access to all the stars all the time. The stars know Ellen and they trust Ellen."
Besides DeGeneres's successful stand-up career, she also had a hit ABC sitcom and has been known to audiences for years. (She also had a CBS sitcom that failed to make it through the 2001-02 season.)
"Ellen will appeal to the young, more upscale end of the daytime audience that has been abandoning broadcast for cable for the last 10 years," says Paratore. "What we found out when we were producing The Rosie O'Donnell
show was that the audience would come back if you put a show on the air that appeals to them. If you can find the right host, you can bring that advertiser-desirable demographic back to broadcast television in very competitive numbers."
is Warner Bros.' attempt to find a replacement for Rosie, which they hoped they had this year with Caroline Rhea and which Buena Vista tried to do with Wayne Brady. While both shows are still on the air, and Brady is rolling out nationally in the fall, neither show has done anything close to the kind of ratings that Rosie did when she first came on the air in 1996.
Before Christmas, Ellen DeGeneres
was cleared in 40 markets and is now waiting on a deal with the NBC owned-and-operated stations, which is deciding among several shows.
"I think there's a lot of room for new shows next year," Paratore says. "There's a lot of shows that aren't working this year so there should be no shortage of availability."