Tuesday morning's opener tried to cram considerable material into 22 minutes, including an interview with guest Julia Louis-Dreyfus and several bits that seem to be under consideration as regular features.

Tuesday morning’s opener tried to cram considerable material into 22 minutes, including an interview with guest Julia Louis-Dreyfus and several bits that seem to be under consideration as regular features.

Most successful was opening “videologue,” a monologue illustrated by video clips and reminiscent in tone of Kinnear’s raised-eyebrows delivery on E! network’s “Talk Soup” (and in no way related to Huell Howser’s “Videolog” feature on KCET). Topics were hardly cutting-edge — Lorena Bobbitt, “Hooked on Phonics” and animal-rights activists among them — but feature could prove effective with more diligent research.

Preparation proved lacking in Kinnear’s handling of his guest, with questions that even David Letterman might write off as being too mundane — why her character and Jerry never rekindled their romance on “Seinfeld,” how she managed to hide her real pregnancy (layers of clothing, etc.).

Kinnear asked at one point if Louis-Dreyfus and hubby Brad Hall met when both were in the “Saturday Night Live” cast. She replied that they’d met some years earlier, when both were attending Northwestern University. As if he hadn’t heard her or read his staff’s research, Kinnear continued with a bit asking her which other SNL regular she might have wanted to marry if not Hall. Her answer: Mary Gross. If this is the level of discussion that’s going to be on the show — this week’s guests include Martin Short, Phil Hartman and George Carlin, none of them exactly strangers to interview shows — why bother?

Other bits included a funny insert by Costas, welcoming Kinnear to the web with mock bitterness, and a flat “expose” of Louis-Dreyfus, with taped “evidence” and excruciatingly boring testimony by Seinfeld to the effect that she, though featured in Clairol commercials, is in fact bald. High point, for the irony-minded, may have been Doritos commercial spot featuring Chevy Chase.

Handsome set credited to Akira Yoshimura (who also designed Dennis Miller and Conan O’Brien sets) tries to do something different, seating Kinnear and guest across the desk from one another. Louis-Dreyfus summed up the feeling best: “I feel like I’m here for a job interview.”

Presence of studio audience didn’t add much, and using pop records (Bachman Turner Overdrive, Wilson Pickett) as bumpers is no replacement for a real band or even generic original music.

Later with Greg Kinnear

(Mon.-Thurs., 1:35-2:05 a.m., NBC)

Production

Videotaped in Burbank by NBC Prods. Executive producer, Greg Kinnear; supervising producer, Eddie October; producer/director, Morris J. Abraham; writing supervisor, George McGrath; writers, Jeff Kahn, Bill Kelley, Greg Kinnear, Joel Madison; technical director, Henry Moreno; lighting director, Bill Klages; art director, R. Brandt Daniels; theme, Dave Koz, Jeff Koz; production designer, Akira Yoshimura.

Cast

Host: Greg Kinnear
With: Julia Louis-Dreyfus While Greg Kinnear shows capability of handling the latenight slot vacated by Bob Costas, he and the show have a way to go. In current format, Kinnear's potential as an intelligent and articulate personality is being inundated in a sea of shtick.
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