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Daytime Execs Discuss Changing Talk Show Landscape

For the first time in over a decade, the daytime landscape is being shaken up significantly. The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Judge Jerry, The Real, The Doctors, The Dr. Oz Show, The Nick Cannon Show, and The Wendy Williams Show are all wrapping. So what does the future hold for daytime TV? Variety asked the experts.

Jack Abernethy, CEO of the Fox Television Stations, stated: 

Daytime is important. People rely on it. But look at soaps — daytime has to be refreshed, just like every medium. If you look across the whole daytime landscape, you’re hard pressed to find these legacy hosts anymore, so the space is in transition now, but that’s a good thing. We need to keep it new and fresh.

The only solo host to continue on for 2022-2023 is Dr. Phil McGraw. And rumors circulated that Jennifer Aniston was taking DeGeneres' spot; asked if he'd ever met with the Friends starMike Darnell, president of Warner Bros. Unscripted Television, quipped:

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Can I plead the fifth?

Mort Marcus, co-president of Debmar-Mercury, mused that the changing number of hosts could be a good thing. He said: 

There could be an advantage to having fewer hosts in daytime. The total pie is more competitive. We’re in the world of social media and video on demand, which present more hurdles. But the broadcast stations and the daytime marketplace are less competitive than they have ever been because all these shows have gone away and they’re not being replaced with the same amount of shows. So, that’s a positive for the distribution.

Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein added that he'd like to one day work again with Wendy Williams, whose talk show is wrapping this year. He explained:

It doesn’t mean the next day, but we will put it together and figure it out. It’s not like we have a Plan B where we hit a button and it’s back in a week, but we do have the desire to be in business with her, if she can come back and be healthy, and so does Fox.

Debmar-Mercury expressed excitement about Sherri Shepherd, whose chatfest Sherri will succeed The Wendy Williams Show, and Warner Bros. also enthused over fellow incoming host Jennifer Hudson.