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How to win post-Oprah wars

Daytime TV Impact Honorees 2012

If Oprah Winfrey was the Great Unifier before she left daytime television for good nearly a year ago, several kingpins have taken up the challenge of navigating the Great Divide.

The post-Oprah daytime world remains a mix of fragmentation and opportunity, complexity and contradiction, with the Old Guard — which was the New Guard not so long ago — guiding the way even as it wrestles with uncertainty.

“I see the landscape changing for economic reasons,” says “Live With Kelly” exec producer Michael Gelman, one of the inaugural Variety Daytime TV Impact Honorees. “Moneywise, (talk) works in daytime because it isn’t the most expensive. But there are cycles, and at some point you’ll hit overkill levels when everyone is trying to hit the same formula. … Doing talk well isn’t easy.”

There’s also no getting around how many pieces have to fall into place to make programming work today, says WME board member Jon Rosen.

“You sell a show in daytime, you’ve got your license fees, you have your barter, you have your advertising,” Rosen says. “But now, more than ever … there’s integrations and product, and brand integrations in programs are critical for daytime.”

A metaphor for the new era in daytime can be found in what might be a surprising location: soap operas, generally thought to be in a state of decay. But careful about making any assumptions.

“I was worried about being one of the last soaps standing, and it’s turned out to be a really a great thing,” says “The Bold and the Beautiful” exec producer Brad Bell. “We’ve picked up audience from the other shows going off the air, so we’re seeing an upward trend, and it’s a very positive sign to have.

“It’s been a wakeup call to us that if we continue on, with business as usual, we’re not going to be on the air too much longer, so we’ve had to think outside the box. We’re trying to do anything but what’s expected. We’re bringing in reality, we’re bringing in issue storylines and exotic locations and chase scenes and comedy. We’re really trying to redefine the whole genre. Every day is an experiment.”

Josh Chetwynd, Carita Rizzo and Michael Sullivan also contributed to this report

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