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Iyanla on the air

Generating one of the first official battle cries for next year's NATPE, Barbara Walters has signed on as executive producer of Buena Vista Television's new daytime talk strip Iyanla for fall 2001.

Fronting the one-hour series will be self-help guru Iyanla Vanzant, who has frequently touted her best-selling books In the Meantime, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up and Yesterday, I Cried on Oprah.

No station-sale information was revealed. Therearequestions since the studio's freshman syndicated series
is locked up on key Chris-Craft stations, which are in line to be acquired by FOX, a BVT rival. However, BVT President Janice Marinelli confirmed, "This is our lead project."

This season's rookie chat shows are hovering about a 1 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Among them: high-profile
Dr. Laura
(1.4), Cybill Shepherd-starrer Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (0.9) and even BVT/Chris Craft Television's Housecalls(1.1).

Still, Marinelli is "hopeful that Housecalls continues" and doesn't think Iyanla, also executive-produced by Bill Geddie (Walters' partner on The View) will compete with it. "We know that this woman connects with the daytime audience."

Said Walters, already executive producer of ABC's
The View
: "I wouldn't take on another project if it wasn't something I thought could be hugely successful."

Also clamoring for NATPE attention last week was Tribune Entertainment's Talk or Walk, a daytime strip that will get cleared on Tribune's station group. So far, the show, in which a studio audience decides whether quarreling people should remain friendly, has cleared 38% of the country. Executive-produced by Scott Sternberg (Studios USA's syndicated and cable series
Lover or Loser
), it will be hosted by Michael Baisden, author of Never Satisfied: How & Why Men Cheat.