11:01am PT by Kate Stanhope
Harry Connick, Jr. Stresses Spontaneity, No Games on Daytime Show
It's a rough time for celebrity-led daytime shows, but Harry Connick, Jr. didn't let reporters see him sweat Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.
"If we get shut down after a couple weeks of horrible ratings, I've met some amazing people," he said. "I don’t know who my competitors are because there's nobody doing this particular show. I don’t worry about the risk at all."
Harry!, which launches Sept. 12 nationwide on Fox-owned stations, follows a long line of recent talk-show misses for names such as Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper and, most recently, former Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira, whose talk show, like Harry!, hailed from NBCUniversal Domestic Distribution. The Meredith Vieira Show was axed earlier this year after two seasons.
"When I started my career making jazz records, the intent wasn’t to be successful, the intent was to make the best music I could make," said Connick. "Of course, I want to be successful. Of course, I want the show to run."
The series' producers, which include longtime Late Show With David Letterman exec producers Justin and Eric Stangel as well as Steve Harvey grad Jason Kurtz, hope to simply capitalize on Connick's wide array of skills as a singer, actor and, most recently, TV personality on the final seasons of American Idol.
"I love to entertain and I've done so many different things throughout my career that have fulfilled me so much. It felt like that this would be an opportunity for me to do all the things I love to do under one roof," he said. "So far out of everything I've done, this seems to be the most in line with who I am."
Stangel said the new show is also built around Connick's back-and-forth with the audience during his concerts. "We have the talent and we've all been seeing him live for years," he said. "So we've built this show around what's he's doing on his tour, in his show."
The result is a program "structured for Harry" that is a combination of both formal and spontaneous performances with a house band — yes, Connick wrote the show's theme himself — man-on-the-street segments, desk segments and interviews with both celebrities and everyday people. "It's going to be different everyday," he said. "The surprises will be situational."
A few things not on the itinerary? "We're not going to play games. I'm not going to put them in dunk tanks," said Connick. Also gone, for the most part, are pre-interviews. "This idea of not having pre-interview is pretty liberating to me," he said, but added, "the option is there for them if they want it."
Connick praised his team for allowing him to simply be himself. "The great thing about this team is they provide these situations where I can be as natural as I could possibly be," he said. "I don’t really feel like I'm on a shoot at all. They let me do what I need to do."
That sincerity and honesty in front of the camera is what the producers are hoping will bring viewers to Harry! Said Kurtz, "What makes Harry so successful on social media is he is so authentic, so we're just going to build on that."