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Mike Huckabee tackles daytime TV with his new talk show
[July 24, 2010]

Mike Huckabee tackles daytime TV with his new talk show

Jul 24, 2010 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Politics and pop culture are always colliding, but seldom have they collided as much as they did in the 2008 presidential election, which had so many candidates that it felt like a reality show, and re-energized Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report -- shows on which several of the candidates made at least one appearance.

One of those candidates, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, went on to host his own talk show, Huckabee, which became a Saturday-night success on Fox News Channel. Now Huckabee is tackling a bigger field, daytime TV, with a test run for a weekday edition of Huckabee. The show, syndicated by Twentieth Television, premieres Monday and will run for six weeks in select markets, including Dallas-Fort Worth.

There's a big difference between having a weekly cable show on Saturdays, typically one of the week's lowest-viewership nights, and having one on broadcast daytime TV, where for every Oprah or Ellen there's a Bonnie Hunt or Megan Mullally that has bitten the dust. And Huckabee knows that.

"Daytime television is a whole lot more about women than it is just about a general audience, prime-time weekend on cable, particularly on a focused news channel," Huckabee said during an interview at the WBAP/820 AM/96.7 FM studios in Arlington shortly before an appearance on The Mark Davis Show. "But we're approaching this from the standpoint that the cable show has had success because it didn't necessarily fit in the genre of the typical cable-news show." There will be similarities between the two shows, which follow talk-show conventions of featuring celebrities plugging projects and musical acts performing (sometimes with Huckabee, who plays bass guitar, joining in). But less than two weeks before the show's premiere, even Huckabee wasn't sure exactly what the daytime show was going to be.

"Part of the six-week [test] is to give us a chance to road-test ideas and see what really clicks," he said. "There's certainly going to be a lot of things that people are used to seeing. I mean, I am what I am. I'm not going to be something I'm not." The former Republican presidential candidate says that one thing he won't do on his show is be combative with his guests, no matter what their viewpoint. Politics will play a part in the show, but it might not be a very heavy part.

"It's not going to be a political show in that a person is going to be subjected to 59 minutes and 30 seconds of nonstop, hard-core conservative politics," Huckabee says. "The approach is going to be taking issues that touch people, and there's always going to be an element of politics to that. For example, we're going to be talking about how to protect your daughters from computer predators.... The issue is obvious in itself, but there are political components: What laws could be passed to help protect children?" Some of Huckabee's early guests include Robert Duvall, Bob Barker and singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka. There will be a musical act every day, but Huckabee says there will be more to that than someone coming out and playing one song at the end of the show.

"I want the audience to get to know the artist first," he says. "People who might not be interested in a person's music, if they got to know that person, they might say: 'Now I understand his music better. Now I understand who he is better.'" He cited as an example Dallas-bred singer-actor Meat Loaf, who appeared on Huckabee: "I'd heard this little fact about him ... that on the day President Kennedy was assassinated, he heard it on the radio, and he and his friends drove to Parkland Hospital and they were in the parking lot of Parkland when Jackie Kennedy got out of the car. Where were you when Kennedy died? He was there. As he talked about growing up in Dallas, people say, 'Now I want to hear his songs, because I feel like I know him in a way I didn't.'" Aside from his political and TV projects, Huckabee has written seven books and does the Huckabee Report for Citadel Media Network (the short commentaries air at 7:30 and 10:55 a.m. on WBAP). Still, he wants to add the grind of a weekday talk show -- if the six-week test run succeeds, the show will find a permanent home later, probably in January -- to his already busy schedule.

"I've always noticed that people who are busy don't shy away from things," he said. "They ended up being busy because they liked doing things. People who have a lot of time on their hands are probably pretty bored." Some polls have suggested that Huckabee would be a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election. Huckabee, however, is more focused on his talk show than on thinking that far ahead.

"I guess if the show fails and I have nothing else to turn to ...," he begins, jokingly. "Wouldn't that be a great reason? 'Why are you running for president?' 'Because my talk show fell apart.'... Despite what some people think, I didn't spend the 20 years preceding 2008 planning to run for president. But it ended up happening.

"People say, 'Gosh, you got further than you ever thought.' I'd say, 'No, I thought I'd go all the way.' It was almost an insult when people said, 'Were you surprised you got that far?' I said, 'Well, no.' I didn't do this saying, 'Gee, I'll run for president. I'll be one of 14 people, and I'll be No. 13!' I was disappointed, because I didn't have a Plan B. But other things came my way." Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872 To see more of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit, e-mail, or call 866-280-5210 (outside the United States, call +1 312-222-4544).

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