King talks talkers’ future

'Oprah' off in 2006

King World is ready to say good-bye to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2006, but continues to wheel and deal in the talk arena.

CEO Roger King said Wednesday that he’ll launch another yakker in fall 2003. There are no host prospects yet for the project, but he noted it will likely be positioned as a companion to “Dr. Phil,” which King World will distribute come fall.

Talk will be hot long after “Oprah” leaves, he maintained: “When that meteor lands on our planet, there’ll be a talkshow out there for it to hit,” he said.

Not likely lasting much past this season, however, is studio’s low-rated rookie “The Ananda Lewis Show.” King described it as “being up against the ropes” for a fall renewal.

Word was that King would depart the syndie scene once “Oprah” ankled — it’s going to be tough to top the $300 million the show makes each year.

But “I still have a passion for this business,” asserted King, who just added three CBS O&O stations (KCCO/KOCW Minneapolis, WFOR Miami and WFRV Green Bay, Wisc.) to its “Oprah” 2006 clearance list.

Renewal pacts with all the ABC O&O stations that carry “Oprah” were inked earlier in the week.

He was upbeat about his job, even as he blamed the economy for why King World isn’t out shopping off-net rights to “The Guardian” — arguably an easy sell since it’s a standout on CBS.

He’s similarly holding off reupping agreements on King World’s vet gamers “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” even though stations have sought extensions to their present contract, expiring in 2005.

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