Last great bingewatch? Netflix’s Unbelievable
What’s on your DVR? The Voice, Billy on the Street
Top all-time TV shows? The Office, Mad Men, Sex and the City, 30 Rock
Favorite podcasts? My Favorite Murder, Armchair Expert, To Live and Die in L.A.
Recent memorable meal? At Petit Crenn in San Francisco. A leek and caviar appetizer, followed by butternut squash soup, a dish of mushroom and cannellini beans, another of smoked trout and cauliflower, and Bûche de Noël for dessert.
Alex Duda got her start at E!, producing everything from Talk Soup, starring Greg Kinnear, to Fashion Emergency and Joan Rivers E! Live from the Red Carpet. From E!, she went to Warner Bros.-owned Telepictures, where she created and executive produced such syndicated strips as Elimidate and The Tyra Banks Show.
After executive producing the young-skewing Tyra, for which she won two of her five Daytime Emmys, she moved to NBCUniversal where she executive produced Steve Harvey in Chicago from 2012 to 2017. In September, Duda took on her third major talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, which is already renewed for season two.
Duda chatted with B+C contributor Paige Albiniak about how she moved from reality TV to talk and how she gets the very best out of the talent she produces.
You have produced several big talents in daytime — Tyra Banks, Steve Harvey and now Kelly Clarkson. They are all very different people. How do you work with talent to create shows that work both for them and the daytime audience? The secret is to find the honest truth about that talent and then craft the show around that. You have to figure out who they really are and then build a show around them that highlights that. That’s why there’s always room for success for everyone in daytime — every host is different so every format should be different.
What is the honest truth you found about Kelly Clarkson? Kelly is all about connection. When we met Kelly, my team and I had been doing reality TV and talk for a long time. When we went in to meet her, we all had ideas about who she was. We walked into the room and sat with her for what was supposed to be an hour and it turned into a probably a four-hour meeting. We all walked out of there thinking, ‘She’s my new best friend.’ We’re not the only ones who feel that way. She wants to connect with everyone; she can’t help but connect. That is her truth. We built the show around that connection.
What has been one of your favorite moments from the show so far? There already have been so many but one that was fun was when we had on Chrissy Teigen and James Wolk. Chrissy moved down the couch to make room for James, and as she moved she commented, ‘I feel like I’m on Elimidate!’ She didn’t know that I created that show, but I loved the call-back. One of my producers, Gina Sprehe, had a needle-point pillow made for me with that quote on it.
How did you decide to do the song at the top, which you call Kellyoke and which is doing well on YouTube? From the beginning, we wanted to do that based on her live concerts. We loved when she would do audience requests and then sing that song. No other host in daytime can do that. It’s the gift she gives the audience every day and it starts the show in such a fun way.
Why do you think Kelly Clarkson is resonating with the daytime audience? I think it goes back to honesty. Whoever is hosting a daytime show is someone the audience has to want to spend time with. And Kelly is one of us, she’s our Idol, we chose her. The audience feels like they can go up and talk to her; they feel like they know her. When we first met with her, we showed her a word cloud of all the different topics you can do in daytime and asked her which of these subjects she was comfortable talking about. She looked at it and said, ‘I’ve got to tell you, there’s nothing I’m uncomfortable talking about.’ She’s fearless, she’s real and she’s not afraid to be 100% her true self.