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Latenight getting "Busy"

This past Sunday, actress Busy Phillips launched her new half-hour talk show on E!.  There’s been a lot of hype leading up to the premiere.  Busy has been, well, busy promoting it and even got other late night hosts the help with her inaugural debut.

Ms. Phillips has a slew of hit shows on her decades-long resume including Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, ER and Cougar Town.  She recently published an autobiography and has become a social media phenom with what has been referred to as her “personal sitcom” on Instagram.

So I was looking forward to Busy Tonight.  And Busy claimed this would be like nothing else on television.

Yet she still wondered aloud to her live audience if it would drag her into her own version of the 90’s “late night wars” between Leno and Letterman.  There’s little chance of that.

She raved about her set which looked like a sitcom living room.  She seemed inordinately pleased there were books on her shelves.  (Who does she think will read them?)  Her writers sat in the front row to help to inject some much-needed comedy.  For some unfathomable reason, she exchanged her dress for a muumuu mid-show.  And while quirky and funny Mindy Kaling was her first guest, they had a mind-numbingly boring conversion full of inside jokes between the two old friends – making this viewer feel like a third wheel.

So I guess it was like nothing else on television right now.

Frankly, do we need another talk show?  These days, everyone seems to be getting one.  Singer Kelly Clarkson’s joining the ranks, replacing Steve Harvey on NBC next fall.  Meanwhile, actor Joel McHale and comedian Michelle Wolf recently had their short-lived shows cancelled.

And this past spring, Alec Baldwin introduced his interview program.  It was then relaunched and pithily re-titled The Alec Baldwin Show this fall.

This is a bare-bones, stripped down, let’s-talk-turkey kind of show.  Baldwin has two chairs, minimal camera shots and no live audience to pander to.  Unfortunately his first guest, Robert DeNiro, was not the chattiest of interview subjects.  Consequently, Baldwin had to carry most of the conversation.  Public response was not great.  The next week, he sat down with media-maven Kim Kardashian as ratings dropped further.

His problem, thus far, has been finding the right guests and I don’t see KK’s and Baldwin’s fans intersecting all that much.  Her followers are more likely to watch her online or on Keeping Up With the Kardashians than on a Sunday-night chat-fest that includes little cleavage and fewer discussions about lip plumpers.  And Baldwin’s viewers aren’t exactly looking for deep conversation from Kanye’s wife.

Talk shows have some pretty big shoes to fill.  Especially in latenight.  And thus far, the networks have been simply throwing shows at every star currently between jobs, hoping that something sticks.

I have my fingers crossed for Alec, but I likely won’t be getting Busy any time soon.