Twentieth to Take Kilborn for a Test Run

Talk-show tests
are the word of the day, with the LA
reporting that Twentieth
Television will test a show this summer starring former late-night host Craig Kilborn
The show, which is initially being targeted for access time slots, will run for
about two months on six to eight Fox stations, including WNYW New York and KTTV
Los Angeles.

A Twentieth
spokesman declined to comment, saying only that the company is "always at the
forefront of program development." B&C reported earlier Wednesday, May 5, that Tribunewill test a show this summer featuring syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham.

Targeting a
talk-show for access is a new idea that recently got serious consideration when
Conan O'Brien was a free agent. Both Debmar-Mercury and CBS Television
Distribution pitched O'Brien and
stations on the idea of creating a show for him in access. A source says that
the notion of putting Kilborn in access wasn't sparked by the O'Brien pitch,

Syndicators are
making the argument for comedic talk in access because while people are used to
watching comedy when they get home from work, via off-net sitcoms, there is no
talk in access. Both syndicators and television stations are looking for ways
to shake things up, create unique brands, and bring back audiences, so they are
considering all sorts of different programming ideas.

That said,
clearing a show in access is a tough proposition. Most of the shows that air
there -- magazines, game shows and off-net sitcoms -- are cleared for years to
come. Moreover, TV stations find they have the most ratings success by sticking
with what works, so moving incumbents out of their slots is nearly impossible.
Should Kilborn find success in Twentieth's summer test, however, the show could
be cleared on late-afternoon slots and work toward upgrades later.

Kilborn, 47,
once hosted Comedy Central's The Daily
, although Kilborn's version was much less politically-focused than Jon
Stewart's incarnation. From there, he went on to host a post-Letterman late
night show on CBS that ran from 1999 to 2004. Kilborn first came to fame as an
anchor on ESPN's SportsCenter.

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.