Kilborn: Many Happy Returns

Craig Kilborn, former host of The Daily Show and CBS’ Late Late Show, makes his return to day-and-date television when seven of Fox’s stations test his new access show, The Kilborn File, starting June 28.

The show will run in some of the country’s biggest markets, including No. 1 market New York on WNYW at 7 p.m. The show also will air on KTTV Los Angeles (market No. 2) at 6:30 p.m., WTXF Philadelphia (market No. 4) at 7 p.m., WFXT Boston (market No. 7) at 7 p.m., WJBK Detroit (market No. 11) at 7:30 p.m., KSAZ Phoenix (market No. 12) at 10:30 p.m. and KTBC Austin (market No. 48) at 10 p.m.

With five runs in access, The Kilborn File marks the first time a syndicator has tried a comedic talk show in the dinnertime slot. (The last two markets don’t have open slots in access.) When Conan O’Brien exited NBC, two syndicators—CBS Television Distribution and Debmar- Mercury—proposed producing and distributing a similar vehicle for him before he ended up at TBS, and several station groups were interested.

Twentieth Television, which will distribute The Kilborn File, says this project was in the works even before the Conan discussions were raised. Comedy talk in access seems to be an idea whose time has come.

“We were well ahead of the pack,” says Stephen Brown, Twentieth’s senior VP of programming and development. “There are a ton of really great sitcoms, but the day-anddate nature of what we are doing makes our comedy really fresh. People want comedy at that time of night, and this show will be something fresh and new.”

Kilborn comes from late night, which remains full of comedians—Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, the list goes on—doing their thing. No show like that exists in access, however.

‘A nice counterbalance’

“I think late night is saturated, and access is already queued up for humor” because of the off-net sitcoms that run there, according to Brown. This show, he adds, will “provide a nice counterbalance to network news and shows like Entertainment Tonight. It’s a strong counterprogramming move.”

Christine Lakin, best known as the star of ABC’s Step by Step, has been cast as Kilborn’s female sidekick. “Access is not a male-centric time period like late night,” Brown says. “It needs a female voice. She matches up well with Craig.”

Like most comedic talk shows, The Kilborn File will open with a monologue. “Craig will have a daily take on pop culture, discussing everything happening in the world of news and celebrity,” Brown says.

After the monologue, the show will feature celebrity interviews, panels, man-on-the-street segments and Kilborn’s patented “five questions,” a quick back-and-forth in which a guest answers five queries posed by Kilborn.

Michael Dugan, formerly of Talk Show With Spike Feresten, will co-executive-produce the show with Kilborn. Lon Rosen will serve as a producer. Dugan also produced The Jon Stewart Show back in 1995, before Stewart was host of The Daily Show.

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Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.