Job security: Wilkos lands daytime talker

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"The Jerry Springer Show's" Steve Wilkos is ready to bring some tough love to daytime.

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution said Tuesday that it has sold a talker featuring the "Springer" security guard to stations owned by Tribune and Sinclair for a fall launch.

The as-yet-untitled hourlong strip will feature Wilkos, a former Marine and cop, offering advice and "doling out his own version of justice." The show, to be taped in front of a live studio audience at WMAQ Chicago, where "Springer" is shot, is being sold on a cash-plus-barter basis and will be paired with NBC Universal's "Maury" and "Springer" in many markets.

Stations that have signed on include Tribune's WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, WGN Chicago and WPHL Philadelphia and Sinclair's WTTA Tampa, Fla., WPGH Pittsburgh, WNUV Baltimore and WLFL Raleigh, N.C. In total, it has been cleared in more than half the country.

The show will be executive produced by Richard Dominick, who also is the executive producer of "Springer" as well as the upcoming "The Springer Hustle" on VH1.

Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, said it makes sense to center a show on Wilkos after seeing his popularity rise on "Springer," which Wilkos will depart to focus on the talker.

"Steve's popularity has grown tremendously over the last decade through his increased role on 'The Jerry Springer Show,' and this is the natural next step for him," Wallach said. "We also are excited to continue our successful daytime relationship with our station partners at Tribune and Sinclair, where Steve's new show will seamlessly fit in with both 'Maury' and 'Jerry.' "

Dominick said that Wilkos has filled in as host for Springer many times but adds that the new show will have a different tone than "Springer."

" 'Jerry Springer' is a wonderful three-ring circus," he said. "But Steve is an ex-cop who won't be afraid to read guests the riot act. This is tough love; the victims won't be cuddled. Sometimes they need to be yelled at just as much as the villains."

As for what this means for Sony Pictures Television's talker "The Greg Behrendt Show," which now airs on Tribune stations, SPT president of distribution John Weiser said the rookie strip already has been cleared in 60% of the country for its sophomore season.

"We're working with stations to renew the show and looking for the best place for Greg to be to have a launch group (for the second season)," Weiser added. "Advertisers have responded favorably to the show, stations love it, and Greg is really growing as a host."

Wilkos added that he's looking forward to hosting his own show.

"I really like helping people," he said, noting that he's been involved with "Springer" for 14 seasons.

Wilkos also has had cameos in such films as "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Pauly Shore Is Dead."

His wife, Rachelle, is a supervising producer on "Springer."
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