Europe's Top Show Switches Hosts

 

The most-watched program in Europe has ended a months-long search for a new figurehead.

German talk show host Markus Lanz will replace Thomas Gottschalk as star of Wanna Bet?, a decades-old variety show that regularly draws 10 million to 15 million viewers on German TV and is a valuable platform for A-listers including Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington when they have a movie to promote.

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Despite its popularity (the next-most-watched show, Germany's version of American Idol, draws just 5 million to 6 million viewers), a who's who of German celebrities said no to the hosting job, fearing Wanna Bet? could be a poisoned chalice because viewership has slipped from more than 13 million in 2005 to about 10 million in 2010.

Lanz, who begins his new gig in October, is well-known in Germany, but insiders are questioning whether he can restore Wanna Bet? to its former glory. 

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