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Mullally Ready To Chat it Up

Will & Grace star Megan Mullally, who plays the besotted and horny socialite Karen Walker with a sort of Gracie Allen-like naiveté on the NBC sitcom, will become the host of a daytime talk show for NBC Universal, set to debut in fall 2006. (NBC has said Will & Grace itself will take its final bow next spring.)

The syndicator that struck out with Jane Pauley's talk show last year and returns to the market with Martha Stewart's new show this fall announced the Mullally talk show without any station deals in hand.

That includes the NBC station group itself, which gave Pauley's show an instant launching pad. A spokesman says NBC Universal will start selling Mullaly's show this summer.

Mullally started thinking about talk shows several years ago after subbing for David Letterman when he had shingles. “I had such a good time, I thought, 'Gosh, that is a job that you can have.'”

King World approached her first, but Mullally says her relationship with the network and NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker's “enthusiasm for the project” won the day. She admits that he had “not been amused” she had talked to King World.

Zucker's initial lack of amusement notwithstanding, NBC U benefited from the King World warm-up, since, Mullally says, by the time she agreed to do the show, she had a better idea of what she wants to do.

What will she do with it? Mullally says she wants to involve more non-celebrities, including the audience.

She will interview celebrities, but in her own style. “Cocktails and a back rub?” she suggests.