TV's Biggest Stunts, From Katie Couric Tossing Footballs to Steve Harvey's Hair Salon
The countdown is on as the new daytime talk show stars pull out all the stops in the fight for fall survival.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
► STEVE HARVEY (DEBUTING SEPT. 4)
Visit Deirdre's Hair Salon in New York until Sept. 17 to find stylists wearing capes branded with Harvey's picture, logo and the tagline "Funny Talks!" Deirdre's is one of 2,000 salons in six major markets enlisted by distributor NBCUniversal to drum up female interest in the Family Feud host's new show. For those who can't get to a salon, Harvey, 55, also has launched the "Stache-o-matic" online, where fans can try on his virtual mustache.
► THE JEFF PROBST SHOW (SEPT. 10)
Most talk shows tell audience members to take a hike after show tapings, but Probst, 50, instead is inviting everyone into an afterparty room for mini-makeovers, massages, snacks and photos. The hope is that the happy audience members sing the Survivor host's praises on social media and build buzz for the launch of his CBS-distributed talker. A woman who calls herself Talkshow Ho recently tweeted: "I talked about sex on National TV at the Jeff Probst Show!!!" and "Oh this is going to be fun!"
► THE RICKI LAKE SHOW (SEPT. 10)
Positioning Lake, 43, as "America's Girlfriend," studio 20th Television aggressively is courting women who grew up watching her top-rated syndicated 1993-2004 talk show. To that end, producers are enlisting potential viewers online to become "Friends of Ricki" and allowing them to watch the show's production meetings live and unedited as they happen. "What appealed to me was the transparency," says Marie Roker-Jones, a married mom in New York. Roker-Jones is one of several women who volunteered to help organize Friends of Ricki gatherings in which participants do things like learn to swing dance and hear an author talk about how to date like a man. Producers hope the empowerment message and the grassroots outreach to the target audience translates into an enthusiastic tune-in when the show launches. "We're about the same age, and I've grown up with Ricki," says Roker-Jones of her connection to the host. "I never thought I would be involved, but it's because of that transparency. You're able to be heard and feel you're not just another person no one cares about."
► KATIE (SEPT. 10)
Where in the world is Katie Couric? She's been crisscrossing the country on a 10-city tour to promote her ABC-Disney show, with stops at local stations in major markets that carry Katie. In Houston, despite 100-plus degree heat, Couric, 55, ventured to a park to toss around a football with a KTRK weatherman. She talked to anyone who approached her and taped promo spots, usually in one take. After one, Couric turned to the crowd and said, "That's how you sell it," recalls park director Barry Mandel. "You never give it away."
► TRISHA GODDARD (SEPT. 17)
Daytime's so-called "conflict talkers" have been mostly men. So Goddard -- a British host and cancer survivor known for revealing lie-detector results on-air -- is trying to distinguish herself in promo spots called "Woman's World" during the shows hosted by Maury Povich, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos. In ads on Maury, which Goddard, 54, has guest-hosted, she's described as offering "straight talk, warm heart."