Michael Strahan Bringing 'Booty' To Daytime TV?
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And finally today, you might not know this if you are a political junky, but there are TV shows on other than the party conventions, and we're not even talking pro football. There are some big names with new shows in daytime TV, including comedian Steve Harvey, TV journalist Katie Couric and the morning show that was "Live with Regis and Kelly" - sorry, "Live With Regis and Kathy Lee" back in the day that became "Live with Regis and Kelly," is now "Live with Kelly and Michael." That Michael would be former NFL star Michael Strahan. He joined the show this week as permanent co-host.
We wanted to talk about all that, so we've called Eric Deggans. He is a TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. He's with us once again.
Thanks so much for joining us once again.
ERIC DEGGANS: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: Now I want to start with Michael Strahan, because it just seems - well, daytime TV is, I think - well, maybe you'll verify this for us - largely about women, and he was a sack machine on the defensive line for the New York Giants. He's very big, African-American football player, and I just don't think he's the first person you'd think of as a co-host talking about working out to Jane Fonda. And just to play a short clip of that, this is him on Wednesday's episode talking a little bit about how he got into sports. Here it is.
(SOUNDBITE TV SHOW, "LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL")
MICHAEL STRAHAN: My brothers would call me Bob.
KELLY RIPA: Bob?
STRAHAN: Bob: booty on back. You're a little chunky, son. You need to lose some weight. So they called me Bob, and I was traumatized. So I bought a - you know, Jane Fonda had a workout where you get on all fours and you start, like, moving your leg...
RIPA: Yes, I know it well. Yeah.
MARTIN: I don't know if I buy that. But - so Eric, tell me, why do you think that he was chosen for this job?
DEGGANS: Well, the first thing, I think, is chemistry with Kelly. He's hosted the show several times in the past - co-hosted it with her several times in the past. They seemed to click personally. Also, I - my hunch is that they liked the unexpectedness of this choice.
When Regis announced that he would be leaving the show and that there seemed to be some weirdness there, perhaps a pay dispute, everybody speculated about who might get that job. And names like Anderson Cooper were floated, names like Mark Consuelos - who is Kelly Ripa's real-life husband - were floated. He's co-hosted the show before. Jeff Probst, the host of "Survivor," his name was floated.
Nobody said Michael Strahan. And so that, the fact that it's unexpected, that they have great chemistry, that he's great on television and has this charisma which kind of comes through the screen, I think all of that speaks to why they may have chosen him.
MARTIN: You wrote a piece saying that this gives us a new vision of family. Talk a little bit more about that.
DEGGANS: Sure. I wrote a piece for my blog called The Feed, where I talked about how these anchor teams - especially in the morning - when you look at the "Today Show" or "Good Morning America" or "CBS This Morning," they're mini-families, in a way. They're surrogate families, in a way. And the two main hosts - particularly if they're of different genders - tend to be sort of the patriarch and the matriarch of the show. We view them like a little family.
And I think if you've watched "Live with Regis and Kathy Lee" or "Live with Regis and Kelly," there was always this sense of Regis Philbin as sort of the older kind of befuddled husband with the younger, hotter trophy wife, right? And so now, that dynamic is totally different, because Kelly Ripa is the more experienced one.
Michael Strahan is the one who doesn't have necessarily a long showbiz history. They're of different races. And they're so different, sort of, physically. You know, he's this huge, ex-football player. She's is very thin, very small actress and showbiz personality. So we're getting a new version of family. And more than that, the producers are betting that their audience will accept this new vision of family, which I think says a lot about what they think about their audience and where they think their has progressed.
MARTIN: Interestingly enough, we have Steve Harvey, who's also a, you know, not a former football layer, but kind of a big guy, African-American man, best-known both, I think, first for his standup comedy, acting work, and then also he's had a radio program the last couple of years, a morning radio show. He's now got a daytime talk show. He's also know, I guess what would you say, he's kind of a relationship guru for these books where he writes relationship advice...
DEGGANS: I know.
MARTIN: ...mainly for African-Americans at this point, but clearly, I think they're trying to broaden it out. Well, here he is talking to an audience member who wanted to know if it was OK to break up with a girl via text message.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE STEVE HARVEY SHOW")
STEVE HARVEY: When you were trying to kiss the woman, hold the woman, caress the woman, love the woman, was any of this via text?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, sir. It wasn't.
HARVEY: So, now, how do you expect to think it's OK to break up with this human being via text? That's got to be close to one of the dumbest things.
MARTIN: Sort of shades of Judge Judy there, but you see he's bringing the standup flavor. You know, the Hollywood Reporter did a poll and found that viewers are more likely to watch Steve Harvey's show than any of the other new daytime shows.
MARTIN: Why do you think that is?
DEGGANS: Well, I think one thing Steve Harvey - the unlikely story of Steve Harvey is that I think he has cornered the market on the same black female audience that Tyler Perry also likes and enjoys and finds support from. And so, you know, he's done these series of relationship books where he's mainly talked to black women about romance and about how to deal with the men in their life and about how to get respect from men. There's a film that was spun off those books that also dealt with the same subjects.
He has a morning radio show where he also talks a lot about this kind of stuff. And now he has a talk show. And it just makes a certain kind of sense. Knowing him as a performer, knowing him as this guy who's a kind of an in-your-face, streetwise comic, I would never have guessed that he would be a relationship guru for black women, but that's what has happened. And I think there's a huge percentage of the daytime audience that fits that demographic bill.
And so he's able to come to this space with a constituency already there, already ready to hear his message. And, obviously, that's going to spread to other types of audiences, and it makes a lot of sense.
MARTIN: Well, where does Katie Couric fit in with all that? Katie Couric, the longtime co-host of the "Today Show," then anchor of "CBS Evening News" for the past five years, you know, of all the people who you'd think would be well-positioned, but somehow this feels risky. What's your assessment of how this is going to go?
DEGGANS: Well, there's a lot of people who have new talk shows that will be debuting, and so there's a ton of competition. You mentioned Steve Harvey. There's also Ricki Lake. There's also Jeff Probst from "Survivor." Anderson Cooper is in the second year of his show. And it seems like everybody's sort of chasing this idea of trying to build a super talk show the way Oprah did.
Can Katie Couric pull it off? I mean, it's been six years since we've seen her do something like this. She was the top news anchor for CBS News for five years, and in a much more serious role, much less able to show off her personality. Now they're sort of betting that she can come back to the space and everybody will remember the old Katie Couric who trading quips with Matt Lauer on the "Today Show." It may not be that easy.
MARTIN: Fess up: What are you going to be watching this fall: election coverage or football or these daytime offerings? Don't think about it. Just tell the truth.
DEGGANS: I definitely want to - I want to stay with Michael. I've been TiVo-ing the show just to see how he does, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how good he is. Of course I'm going to keep an eye on Katie Couric's show, because that'll be the highest-profile debut.
MARTIN: OK. We'll check it out. We'll check it out. Hopefully you'll check it out with us.
Eric Deggans is a TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. He joined us from there.
Eric, thank you.
DEGGANS: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: And that's our program for today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.