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The Larry Elder Show

Whether or not one agrees with his conservative/libertarian politics, Larry Elder's radio show is a cut above the pack. Yet in its second stab at translating Elder to TV, Warner Bros. has again bleached and diluted those more laudable qualities. Elder is probably well advised not to quit his (other) day job.

Whether or not one agrees with his conservative/libertarian politics, Larry Elder’s radio show is a cut above the pack — mixing pointed debate with a quick wit and wry sense of humor. Yet in its second stab at translating Elder to TV, Warner Bros. has again bleached and diluted those more laudable qualities, turning the political commentator into a daytime-oriented cross between “Dr. Phil” and “Maury,” with a painful skew toward the latter’s tawdry topics. Registering modest numbers, Elder is probably well advised not to quit his (other) day job.

Although it’s understandable the syndicator saw a potential star in Elder — previously sandwiching him in as host of “Moral Court” — he’d be much better off with the equivalent of Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel gig than a female-oriented vehicle that runs counter to his male-dominated radio audience.

Elder’s message of self-reliance and hard work seems mostly lost on the freaks and miscreants recruited as props, including a dysfunctional twentysomething couple and a blended family where some of the kids — uncomfortably put on camera — accuse their stepfather of abusing them.

Elder’s radio experience does make him a better-than-average interviewer, but even those skills were hard-pressed to mine any golden nuggets from his two “get” interviews of premiere week: Jason Alexander, who spent 2½ days married to Britney Spears; and Vili Fualaau, the then-12-year-old (now 21) who had an infamous affair with his teacher, Mary Kay Latourneau.

Much as Elder might have wanted to say, “Vili, don’t be a hero,” he pitched the kid mostly softballs, while subtly lecturing Alexander as the show simultaneously exploited him. “She’s moved on, you move on,” Elder said of Spears, to applause from the Stepford audience.

Part of Elder’s mystique has always surrounded his willingness to take on African-American groups with a message of self-empowerment (as opposed to what he dubs the “victicrat” mentality), and that debate reared its head Thursday — putting the host on more familiar footing, easily this week’s strongest hour.

Thus far, though, the emphasis appears to be on families in trouble and inflating bizarre behavior (say, women sleeping with teenage boys, teased as an upcoming topic) as if such circus folk are as prevalent as the common cold. Moreover, several of these stories exposed children — whose parents clearly aren’t putting their welfare first — in a manner that borders on irresponsibility.

Historically, there is a daytime audience for such fare. Yet without a course correction, the self-proclaimed Sage From South Central is simply miscast serving as the conductor for this ship of fools.

The Larry Elder Show

KCBS, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.

  • Production: Taped in Los Angeles by ANE Prods. in association with Telepictures Prods. and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution. Executive producer, Ed Glavin; supervising producer, Kevin Applegate; supervising field producer, Inga Kleinrichert; senior producer, Jacqueline Bender; producers, Paul Boese, Jen Faison, Kara Hogan, Tarvenia "T" Jones, Tracey La'stell Slates; director, Brian Campbell.
  • Crew: Production designer, Anton Goss. Running Time: 60 MIN.
  • Cast: <B>Host:</B> Larry Elder
  • Music By: