Michaels to create talk strip

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Still on a business roll after clearing The Weakest Link in Los Angeles this week, NBC Enterprises has signed Saturday Night Live creator/executive producer Lorne Michaels to develop a new hour-long talk strip for fall 2002.

At this point, there aren't many official details about the NBC project, but word is that it's aiming to become the next Rosie O'Donnell Show with her similar brand of "irreverant humor," says a source. Presently, Michaels and Marci Klein, SNL co-producer and a slated producer on the NBC talk show, are looking at possible hosts - insiders say there's a chance there could be one or two.

Knowing that Rosie should exit after the 2002/2003 season, several shows have been gunning for her afternoon time slots, including Weakest Link, Buena Vista's strip version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Columbia TriStar's Pyramid.

NBC will target the Michaels talk strip towards early fringe 3 - 5 p.m. time periods, as well, but apparently the company is optimistic that the station community will have room for everybody in the marketplace. Meanwhile, King World is currently making the sales rounds with its talk show starring Oprah lifestyle guru Dr. Phil, a project aimed at both early fringe and morning time periods.

As far as potential station interest, one group source said "absolutely, we'll be interested. Lorne's reputation precedes him." The source is confident Michaels will find a great host for the project because SNL is like "central clearing house for talent. They are aggressive in going out to comedy clubs to finding out who's hot."

SNL alums that have gone onto bigger and better things include Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Mike Meyers and David Spade.
- Susanne Ault

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