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Kilborn returns after six-year absence

Craig Kilborn, who anchored an early incarnation of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” for two years in the 1990s, is returning to television with a show similar in tone to the current Jon Stewart version.Kilborn

Produced by Twentieth Television, the half-hour “The Kilborn File” will make a six-week run on Fox Television Station O&O’s in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelpha, Boston, Phoenix, Austin and Detroit beginning June 28. Depending upon the city, show will air at 6:30, 7 or 7:30 p.m. and replace the current syndie sitcom airing at that time.

Kilborn was host on CBS’ “The Late Late Show” for five years, and was often talked about as a possible latenight fixture but left the show in 2004 and has been off the air since. Previously to being the first host of “The Daily Show,” Kilborn was a popular anchor on ESPN’s signature show “SportsCenter.”

“The Kilborn Files” will have the host offer opinions on pop culture and current events. He’ll also have guests and a “power panel” that will weigh in on the issues of the day.

While Twentieth wasn’t specifically looking for a show that tackled current events in a humorous fashion, Kilborn pitched the show and found the studio very interested.

“From a conceptual standpoint, this is his baby,” Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming for Fox Television Stations, told Daily Variety. “He delivered on every comic concpet he described to us. It’s very well thought out.”

As for the test episodes shot for Twentieth execs, Cicha thought there was enough potential in the show to go forward.

“Comedy is hard, and doing it five days a week is near impossible, but enough was delivered,” he said. “You knew there was something there. Did you bust a gut at every utterance?  No, but that’s not true for any show.”

Chicha also said the comparisons to “The Daily Show” might be slightly premature. Also, with “The Daily Show” on basic cable, Stewart and his team have more leeway in terms of language and content than Kilborn on Fox’s O&Os.

“I’m not sure it’ll be as political as that,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going in that direction. It might be less politics and more pop culture.”

Show, produced by Lon Rosen, will tape in Los Angeles before a live audience.

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