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Returning Shows Hope to Pick Up Where Oprah Left Off

With the Queen of daytime now off to Cable Land, much of the attention in the syndication world has been focused on rookies like Anderson Cooper this year and Katie Couric next. But the dawn of daytime without Oprah Winfrey—and soon, Regis Philbin—has syndie vets hoping the void will mean opportunity for them.

“We’re getting all sorts of offers for exclusive interviews and shows for whom maybe a year ago the first step would have been The OprahWinfrey Show,” says Andy Lassner, executive producer of Warner Bros.’ Ellen. “Now these things are coming to us. We think we’re a really soft landing for Oprah viewers.”

Ellen will be taking a page from Oprah’s book by opening season nine with a huge, Oprah-esque giveaway. “On our first show back on Sept. 12, we will give away something in a meaningful way that’s bigger and further-reaching than anything we’ve ever done on the show,” says Lassner.

Meanwhile, the Oprah spin-offs Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Nate Berkus all plan to make splashes this season.

“With Oprah going away, that gives us the ability to take on topics that formerly were reserved for Oprah, like authors and celebrities,” says Carla Pennington, executive producer of CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, which is headed into its 10th season. Not that host Phil McGraw is going to veer from the subjects—relationships, addictions, personal transformation— that have kept the show on the air for a decade, but Pennington sees a chance to shake things up.

Dr. Phil
will launch that shake-up right out of the gate with an exclusive interview with the parents of Casey Anthony, who was famously on trial this summer for allegedly killing her daughter, Caylee. Casey was acquitted, but her parents have plenty to say in this first on-air conversation.

“I really think the Anthonys were able to relate to Phil as a grandfather,” says Pennington.

Sony’s Nate Berkus, which spun out of Oprah last season, is headed back into people’s homes where his producers feel he best connects with viewers

“I watched Nate on Oprah for years, and what I really loved about him was seeing him in the field changing people’s lives,” says Corin Nelson, who in May took over as executive producer of the show. “We spent the summer putting Nate in the field. We needed to return to him doing what he loves.”

Sony’s Dr. Oz will hold off on its opening move until Sept. 26, when the show unveils its “Transformation Nation Million-Dollar You,” which will challenge viewers to change themselves for a chance to win $1 million.

“This is Dr. Oz’ most ambitious weight-loss event ever,” says Amy Chiaro, coexecutive producer. “We want you to look like a million bucks and feel like a million bucks. This is your chance to win a million bucks, too.”

Finally, CTD’s The Doctors is adding two experts to its panel of four: health and wellness maven Jillian Michaels and psychologist Dr. Wendy Walsh.

“I think any TV show has to grow and expand, and we always have to work to make ourselves more valuable to our audience,” says Jay McGraw, The Doctors’ executive producer (and son of Phil). “I think these changes make our show more relatable to more people. Our cast now has an equal split of men and women. I think it’s important that daytime and our show includes the female voice to say ‘This is what, as women, we want and need.’”

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