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Fox Stations Grab Harry Connick Jr. Variety Show as Daytime Dealmaking Heats Up

Harry Connick Jr. is poised to segue from the judge’s panel on “American Idol” to a syndicated daytime variety show in fall 2016 as jockeying for prime daytime TV real estate begins to heat up.

The annual race to lock up time slots for new shows also raises the perform-or-perish stakes for incumbents. The biggest question mark at present surrounds NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira talker, which is a month into its second season.

NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution is producing and distributing Connick’s show, “Harry,” which has been picked up by 17 Fox-owned stations in major markets. That sale will quiet speculation that “Harry” was waiting in the wings to replace “Meredith” on NBCU-owned stations. But “Meredith” is nonetheless on shaky ground barring a ratings uptick.

NBCUniversal has set “Late Show with David Letterman” alums Eric and Justin Stangel as exec producers of “Harry.” The show is billed as a mix of musical performance segments, field pieces, comedic sketches and audience participation.

The talk-variety skew of “Harry” sounds like a departure for the Fox stations, which typically favor topical daytime talkers and court shows.

“We really look forward to Harry Connick, Jr.’s next hit,” said Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming for Fox Television Stations. “In looking at the competition, we felt this was the right time for us to add a program like this to our mix.”

The list of other personalities on deck for potential new shows next fall is taking shape. Bishop T.D. Jakes is known to be flirting with distributor Debmar-Mercury about a possible talk show launch next fall. Warner Bros. mounted a summer test run for a topical/lifestyle talker “Ice and Coco” hosted by Ice-T and his wife Coco Austin on a handful of Fox stations but the project is not believed to be moving forward at Fox.

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