Look who's talking next in '08

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The fall 2008 syndication season kicked off in earnest Thursday with the news that Bonnie Hunt is officially headed to daytime in fall 2008.

Warner Bros.' syndication division has gotten a head start on next year by clearing a daytime talk show hosted by the actress-comedian on the NBC Universal Television Stations under a two-year deal.

Meanwhile, two other deals with the NBC Uni station group cover extensions of the long-running entertainment newsmagazine "Extra" through 2012 and the Emmy-winning talk show "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" through 2011.

Hunt is no stranger to talk shows, having guest-hosted CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" and Disney-ABC Domestic Television's syndicated "Live With Regis and Kelly."

"Bonnie is somebody we've had our eye on for many, many years, as has the likes of 'Letterman' and 'Regis and Kelly' and 'The View,' " said Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. "She's a unique talent that everybody feels has all the qualities of a great talk show host, and it's very hard to find those people."

Hunt also will executive produce with Jim Paratore and Don Lake. The show, which will be produced by Bob & Alice Prods. and ParaMedia Inc. in association with Telepictures Prods., has been cleared on all of the NBC owned-and-operated stations except WCAU Philadelphia.

Telepictures president Hilary Estey McLoughlin said the talker will target women in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos and feature a mix of celebrity and "real people" guests.

"Bonnie has an extremely relatable take on life, and the show will be wrapped around her personality," Estey McLoughlin said. "It will be a very topical, upbeat, entertaining show that's also going to have takeaway information, which is a sweet spot for women in daytime and fills a void in many ways."

Estey McLoughlin added that it's likely Hunt will draw on her past profession, working as an oncology nurse, to enlighten viewers on health and medical issues. She said there have been no decisions made on such matters as whether there will be a sidekick or band or if Hunt will sit behind a desk.

WBDTD also did not divulge details about where the show will be shot or the terms of the deal, but sources said it could originate from Los Angeles or her hometown of Chicago. Similar deals typically involve cash plus barter with an 11-minute local/3 1/2-minute national split.

A rep for the station group said it's too early to talk about specific time slots for the show or what might get bumped for the new talker, but some industry sources said that "In the Loop With iVillage" is particularly vulnerable.

NBC Television Stations president John Wallace praised the group's relationship with Warners.

"As the daytime syndication marketplace continues to evolve, it's critical that we have strong creative partners, like Warner Bros., who share our goals and are committed to working with us to provide programs that resonate with our viewers and fit with the NBC brand," he said.

Bill Carroll, vp and director of programming at station-rep firm Katz Television Group, said he isn't surprised that the NBC Uni station group cleared Hunt's talker given that it's a "logical companion show in daytime" for "Ellen."

While the Hunt talker marks the first official announcement for fall 2008, it's been widely speculated that NBC Uni has a deal coming for a syndie version of "Deal or No Deal," said to be with the NBC stations as well. A rep for NBC Uni declined comment.

Meanwhile, Carroll added that the two-year extension of "Extra" — taking it through its 18th season — is a "vote of confidence for the show" on the part of NBC Uni in light of the fact that two NBC stations — WNBC New York and WTVJ Miami — recently have shifted the show from 7 p.m. to afternoon slots to make way for local news.

The deal for "Ellen," which recently won a fourth consecutive Daytime Emmy Award for best talk show, marks a one-year extension.
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