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‘Rolonda’ first talker to nab Tonya interview

King World’s “Rolonda” is the first talkshow to land Tonya Harding as a guest. The controversial figure skater will appear on the May 3 episode, which may be aired live.

Harding will be paid an undisclosed amount for her appearance on Rolonda Watts’ show.

“I have no problem with checkbook journalism,” said King World prexy Michael King. “We’re prepared to pay for it, but we won’t make it easy on her or give her the right to lie to the public.”

Watts added, “Harding has a lot to say and I am tickled to death with whatever it took to get the interview.”

Harding’s appearance is tied into the relationship that King World’s “Inside Edition” established with her. King and Watts said that “Rolonda” will work with both “Inside Edition” and “American Journal” on story ideas and the talker will have access to the shows’ libraries and program material.

King World is hoping that an appearance by Harding will jump-start “Rolonda,” which has suffered from low ratings since it launched on Jan. 17. It replaced King World’s “Les Brown” show, which lasted only a few months.

King was meeting with Hollywood publicists in Los Angeles Thursday to drum up support and guests for the show, which he said suffered in the February book because of the Olympics and its quick launch. “It’s very hard to mount a show in a matter of a few weeks.”

“Les Brown,” King said, “was not a broadcaster. We gave it our full swing.” King talked extensively of the failure of “Les Brown” and noted that only two of his staffers were now with “Rolonda.”

“Every show starts rocky –‘Wheel,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Oprah’ were all slow starters,” King said, adding that “Rolonda” is “terrific and will make a difference.”

While King emphasized that the show will be topical and serious, he also made a plea to the audience that “Rolonda” wants celebrities on its show.

“We want celebs on the show; a King World show won’t hurt you … we take the high road,” King said.