Latenight strip auditions Spencer subs, invites Sinbad

Columbia TriStar TV Distribution is looking to replace Chris Spencer as host of its struggling syndie latenight strip “Vibe.”

Spencer’s contract with the Quincy Jones/David Salzman-produced latenight talker is up Oct. 31. Sources say the show’s producers have been fielding potential replacement candidates for at least two weeks, partly in response to pressure from “Vibe” affiliate stations to improve the show’s weak ratings.

Comedian Sinbad has been approached to do a four-week stint as “Vibe’s” guest host during the November sweeps. However, sources close to Sinbad say it’s unlikely the comic would seek a full-time gig on “Vibe” after turning down numerous similar offers in recent years.

“Vibe” producers also are considering a rotating guest host format as a means of auditioning new candidates, sources said. Names circulating in that mix included standup comic Teddy Carpenter and John Salley, the former NBA star who recently signed a development deal with Columbia TriStar.

A CTTD spokesman would not comment Monday on rumors regarding the show’s future and other studio sources stressed that no final decisions about Spencer or the show’s future have been made.

“Vibe,” like its new syndie rival hosted by Keenen Ivory Wayans, got off to a good start in its Aug. 4 debut, but the show never built on its early momentum. “Vibe” has averaged a 1.6 national Nielsen household rating and sub-1 ratings in key demographic categories for the season to date.

Spencer, a standup comedian, has received mixed reviews in his first major TV job. From the start, syndie forecasters said Col TriStar was taking a chance in going with a relatively unknown personality, particularly when Buena Vista TV was mounting a competing latenight talker with a better known host, Wayans.

But “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” has faced its own growing pains over the past three months. “Wayans,” with a 1.8 household average for the season to date, has been dogged by rumors of conflict and chaos on the set. Both “Wayans” and “Vibe” have been shifted to later timeslots in key markets in recent weeks.

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