Tuned In: Meredith Vieira's show among the most notable addition to TV schedules rife with changes


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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - The transition from morning news anchor to syndicated daytime talk show host can be a rocky one. Just ask Jane Pauley and Katie Couric.

They both tried and failed to make the move to another time period successfully.

At least former "Today" anchor Meredith Vieira has the benefit of having been a co-host on ABC's "The View," which probably bears a closer resemblance to "The Meredith Vieira Show" (10 a.m. weekdays on WTAE beginning Monday) than a morning news program. She also hosted the daytime version of game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

Still, Ms. Vieira knows syndication is risky. At a July press conference, she said she didn't even want her name in the show title but settled on it anyway.

"Hopefully, it will be a reflection of my authenticity, because people who know me and know that name, I think they know what they're going to get because I've been doing this for 40 years," she said, "and I am who I am."

She said she used the word "authenticity" purposefully.

"That's the keyword with an audience," she said. "They can smell a fake a mile away, not that the shows that have failed are because the people who front them are phony. But I think that they want real, and they want to connect with somebody. And in the shows that I have done in the past, particularly 'The View' and 'Today,' what has struck me the most is how significant daytime television is to the viewers. They connect with it in such a personal way. When I have folks come up to me, it's never like, 'Oh, Meredith Vieira.' It's always almost like I'm their mother. Some say, 'You remind me of my grandmother,' which I don't love."

She's OK with those who compare her to an aunt, sister or best friend.

With her new show, Ms. Vieira is trying a few different, if not entirely original tricks, including the presence of a band. And the set is designed to look like the family room at her house. It even includes a chair brought in from her home.

"In a way, the chair symbolizes me. It's a little worn-in. I'm 60 years old. But it's been loved and lived in, and it's a reflection of family, to me," she said. "And that, again, is sort of the vibe of the show that I'm trying to put across. I want people to feel they're coming into my house."

"The Meredith Vieira Show" will also feature a dog on the set. A new service dog will be introduced each Monday and every Friday viewers will meet the person getting the dog and hear their story.

But if this daytime talk show doesn't succeed, she's not sweating the outcome.

"If it fails, I'm not going to die, but I'm hoping for the best," she said. "I think we have a fresh and exciting new show that's different from what has already been out there, and, hopefully, the audience will respond."

In addition to adding "Meredith Vieira," Channel 4 will also move "Steve Harvey," currently airing overnight, to an improved 3 p.m. time slot in its weekday lineup next week. In a phone interview last month, Mr. Harvey said his multi-topic program is more lifestyle-driven than newsy (think: relationship conversation, dating issues, fashion makeovers).

Each episode begins with an "Ask Steve" question, which gives the host an opportunity to use his stand-up comedy skills answering an audience question. He said he only knows the question in advance when it's pulled from e-mail, not from the studio audience.

"I wanted to still be a stand-up," he said. "I can't run away from that. One of my strongest suits is the ability to improvise and think on my feet."

On Tuesday Mr. Harvey will celebrate the launch of his new book, "Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life's Riches." And in November, he'll take the show on the road to Orlando, likely at Universal Studios Florida.

New chatfest "The Real" (a la "The View" and "The Talk") moves into the 1:08 a.m. time period Sept. 15. The series is hosted by Tamar Braxton, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Adrienne Bailon in a style that brings to mind "The View" and "The Talk."

" 'The View' is talking about what things are going in the world, what people are saying about what's going on in the world," Ms. Mai said. "There's nothing wrong with that, but we're talking about, like, having a baby, thinking about being married or not wanting to have a child."

"[It's about ] what's going on in our world," Ms. Bailon added.

As for the titles of daytime panel chat shows featuring five women that seem to require "The" in their title, "The Real" executive producer SallyAnn Salsano ("Jersey Shore") said she's stumped.

"It's so funny we had so many debates about that," she said. "I'm like, why is everybody saying that, I guess we just have to do it. It's just the way it is. I don't know. I also think it messes with your DVR, I know personally for me. It just is what it is: 'The Real,' 'The View.' "

Channel 4 will also air reruns of "Scandal" at midnight and 1 a.m. Monday beginning Sept. 15.

KDKA-TV

Channel 2 adds just two series entering syndicated reruns: "Blue Bloods" will air at 12:05 a.m. Sunday beginning Sept. 13 followed by "The Good Wife" at 1:05 a.m.

WPCW

Channel 19 adds reruns of CBS's "Mike & Molly," starring Swissvale native Billy Gardell, at 6 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday (and 5 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday) beginning Sept. 22.

Reruns of "Blue Bloods" will air at 7 p.m. Saturday beginning Sept. 13 and reruns of "The Good Wife" will play at 11 p.m. Sunday starting Sept. 14.

In daytime, Terry Crews ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine") will take over as host of long-running daytime game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" when it begins its 13th season Monday. "Millionaire" will continue to air at 1:30 and 3 p.m. weekdays through Sept. 19 and after that will air at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. weekdays.

And what would a new season of syndicated shows be without more courtroom programs? WPCW will introduce "Hot Bench" (10 and 10:30 a.m. weekdays, Sept. 15), which features a panel of three judges who hear a case and then argue its merits among themselves before reaching a verdict. The series was created by "Judge Judy" star Judy Sheindlin.

WPGH

Channel 53 will add newcomer "Judge Faith" (11 a.m.) on Sept. 22. The show stars Faith Jenkins, a former Miss Louisiana and first runner-up to Miss America in 2001, who became a legal analyst for cable news networks while working as a Wall Street litigator and criminal prosecutor.

"Judge Faith" will adjudicate small claims cases chosen from across the country.

Channel 53 will air reruns of "Raising Hope" (1:30 a.m. weeknights starting Sept. 22) and "Cougar Town" (3 a.m. weeknights, Sept. 22).

WPMY

"Late Late Show" host Craig Ferguson is planning to step down from that job by the end of the year but he won't be gone from TV as long as "Celebrity Name Game" (7 and 7:30 p.m. weekdays, beginning Sept. 22) is on the air.

Mr. Ferguson hosts this game show that pairs regular Joe and Jane contestants with celebrities to identify actors, singers, athletes and politicians from improvised clues.

Courteney Cox and David Arquette executive produce "Celebrity Name Game" and will appear on the show as celebrity guests along with Tom Arnold, Yvette Nicole Brown, Dan Bucatinsky, Lisa Kudrow, Scott Wolf and Constance Zimmer.

Channel 22 adds reruns of "Hot in Cleveland" (6 and 6:30 p.m. weekdays, beginning Sept. 15) and FX's "Anger Management" (1 and 1:30 a.m. weekdays, beginning Sept. 22).

"TMZ Live" (5 p.m. weekdays, beginning Monday), a spinoff from "TMZ on TV," also joins the lineup with daily conversations about celebrities.

Reruns of "Modern Family" will move to 11 and 11:30 p.m.; "The Middle" reruns shift to midnight and 12:30 a.m. weekdays.

WPXI

"The Rachael Ray Show" moves over from WTAE, landing in Channel 11's 11 a.m. time period replacing the canceled "Bethenny."

Channel 11 adds reruns of two cable shows to late-night on weekends. "What Went Down" (2:30 a.m. Sunday starting Sept. 14) follows a team using modern science to look back at big moments in history. "Forensic Files" (1:30, 2 and 3 a.m. Monday beginning Sept. 22) looks at how forensic science is used in crime solving.

Kept/canceled

Netflix renewed Western Pennsylvania-set (but filmed-in-Toronto) "Hemlock Grove" for a 10-episode third and final season to debut on the streaming service in 2015.

Late last week A&E canceled "Longmire" after three seasons. Producers will shop the show to other networks, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Syfy canceled "The Wil Wheaton Project" after a single season. TBS canceled Cee Lo Green's "The Good Life." Fox canceled summer drama "Gang Related."

Channel surfing

The first five episodes of shot-in-Pittsburgh docu-series "The Chair" will be available to Starz subscribers Saturday via Starz Play and Starz On Demand in advance of the premiere episode airing at 11 p.m. Saturday on Starz. ... A new, one-hour PBS special that celebrates the life of Robin Williams will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday on WQED-TV. ... This year's "Stand Up To Cancer" telethon airs at 8 tonight on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and a whole slew of cable channels. ... Syndicated viral video show "Right This Minute," hosted by 2002 Plum High School grad Steven Fabian, already airs locally on WPXI at 3 and 3:30 a.m. weeknights and is now also airing on PCNC at 4 p.m. weekdays.

Tuned In online

Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "NCIS," "Law & Order: SVU" and WQED. This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "Utopia," Lifetime's "Saved by the Bell" movie, "The Chair" and "My Friends Call Me Johnny." Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.

This week's podcast includes conversation about "True Blood," "The Last Ship" and "Houdini." Subscribe or listen at http://old.post-gazette.com/podcast.


TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.

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