Jackson, Sanchez Tapped for Twentieth Talker

Randy Jackson and Lauren Sanchez know something about intense competition and the merciless rejections that show business can offer up. Jackson is an American Idol judge, and Sanchez hosts So You Think You Can Dance.

Now the two are joining together to plunge into an entertainment realm that’s every bit as unforgiving as their prime time series on Fox: the syndicated–talk-show business. Jackson and Sanchez have been recruited by Twentieth Television for a pilot of what insiders are touting as an “urban” Regis and Kelly.

Word of the project comes at an interesting time. Roger Ailes, the maestro of Fox News Channel’s success, last week added Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television to his areas of responsibility at News Corp.

Much speculation has focused on what Ailes will do to buttress Fox channels in the morning following local breakfast broadcasts, since one effort, Good Day Live, was abandoned earlier this year. But it’s not clear whether the Jackson-Sanchez show is intended for that slot. Neither Twentieth nor Endeavor, the agency that reps both Jackson and Sanchez—and packaged the show—would comment.

But a Fox pairing of Jackson and Sanchez in the morning makes sense: It would play to the O&Os’ strength with urban viewers—a demographic so important to Fox that it has waged a bitter campaign against Nielsen over its use of local people meters to measure TV audiences, alleging the devices undercount minorities.

For Jackson, the talk show would present an opportunity to capitalize on his Idol success. He is widely regarded as the most likable of the Idol judges, but fellow panel members Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul have considerably higher profiles.

Jackson is already making some headway in that department: In June, the Grammy Award-winning producer and 20-year music-industry veteran, who came to fame as a bass player for Journey, signed with radio syndicator Westwood One to host a weekly three-hour top-30 countdown show starting in September.

In addition to her Dance duties, Sanchez works as a nighttime entertainment reporter for KTTV in Los Angeles and news co-anchor for KCOP, the market’s Fox duopoly station, where the motto is “Get It On.”

The plan for her project with Jackson, if all goes well: Get it on the air next fall.