North Texas will dot TV screens starting Sept. 9 when two new syndicated shows debut – Tamron Hall, who grew up in Fort Worth, and Burleson’s Kelly Clarkson.
Unfortunately, they’ll be fighting for viewers as they both will air at the same time locally, but that’s why the Lord invented DVRs.
For Clarkson, 37, who won the first American Idol season and has since become a coach on The Voice, her new show will be a lead-in to the popular Ellen DeGeneres Show. While known as a singer, Clarkson as a talk show host makes some sense. If you’ve seen her on The Voice, talking is something that comes easily for her. The big question may be if any of her guests will get a word in edgewise. Her first guest was scheduled to be the equally loquacious Kevin Hart, but since he is now recovering from back surgery following a car accident, Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock, will be her guest. Where’s he been? Oh yeah, shooting his 20th movie this year. Actually, he cut his honeymoon short to fill in for Hart, which either speaks well for Clarkson’s pull in Hollywood or ill for his marriage. Just funnin’ Rock … Clarkson’s show, produced by NBC, will air locally on NBC5.
For Hall, her show comes on the heels of losing what appeared to be her dream job. Hall was hosting the successful third hour of the Today show with Al Roker in 2017 when NBC gave her time slot to Megyn Kelly. Hall decided to opt out of her contract instead of taking a lesser role. Kelly famously imploded in the slot.
Hall’s roots are also local. She was born in Luling, but grew up in Fort Worth, graduating from Polytechnic High School in 1985. She then earned her Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism from Temple University, eventually landing a job at KTVT, Channel 11, from 1994-97. Since then she has had a somewhat peripatetic career, but always earning solid marks – and good ratings – at nearly every stop.
"At one point I was on four networks at the same time. I was doing MSNBC, the 'Today' show, ID (Investigation Discovery network) and TLC, coupled with Bear Grylls and regularly hosting the Macy's Fourth of July. So at any given time, people know me from six different, versions of my career," she said to Associated Press writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody. "And we thought, it's a range of an audience. Let's bring all of those people into one location."
She didn't have a specific plan when she left NBC in 2017. All she had was faith that something bigger had to be on the horizon.
"I leaned on my mom, and my mother has the saying, 'God didn't bring me this far to let you go.' And so at some point I could not just keep regurgitating the line leap of faith – I had to believe it," she recalled in a recent interview. "I've got to believe in something, so why not believe in myself?"
That belief has paid off with amazing dividends for Hall, 48, who not only now has a husband and a 4-month-old son Moses, but her own eponymous show that will debut across the nation.
"She loses her job, her dream job of her life, and at that moment, she's what, 45, 46? She doesn't have a job, she doesn't have the kid she thought she was going to have, she doesn't have the husband she thought she was going to have," said Bill Geddie, The View creator who came out of retirement to be executive producer on Tamron Hall.
"Instead she rebuilds herself just through force of will," he added, "and everything comes together in 2019. So, it's kind of an amazing story, one you don't see a lot, and a lot of people relate to it."
Hall's comeback might have come sooner had it not been for the Harvey Weinstein scandal. She had entered into a partnership with the Weinstein company before the sexual misconduct scandal involving Weinstein broke and the #MeToo era erupted.
It was another setback.
"I couldn't believe that, but at the same time I felt so guilty thinking about my career, and then thinking about the allegations that the women were making. I'm sitting there going like, 'I can't be thinking about myself,’" she said. "From the first words out there, I couldn't do that. I wasn't raised that way. I just said maybe that wasn't meant (to be)."
Tamron Hall might focus on a newsy topic one day, and fashion the next. Another show could focus on motherhood. Perhaps dating and relationships. Or crime, which speaks to Hall's work on ID and her personal experience from being the sister of a murder victim.
Hall’s sister, Renate, was found face down in the pool of her own home in 2004. The murder has remained unsolved, though there was a person of interest in the case.
That helped lead to Hall’s Investigation Discovery network show, primarily about unsolved crimes. But all those shows have attracted an audience and the producers hope to tap into her varied fans from across the spectrum.
"The beauty about the show is that it's not about one lane, it's a reflection of who she is in her entirety," said co-executive producer Talia Parkinson-Jones, a veteran of the Wendy Williams show. "We know exactly what she wants, which is to inspire people."
Don't expect a show with a lot of shouting about politics. Says Geddie: "I've had enough of that, and I'd like to do something different now."
It also won't be heavy on celebrity guests.
"We both are from the middle of the country, I'm from Oklahoma, she's from Texas," Geddie said. "I think both of us are aware that most of television is New York talking to Los Angeles. We find that most of television talks past or through the middle of the country, and we hope to change that."
Hall’s new show comes at a busy time in her life. She went through IVF to conceive and recalls getting shots to prepare for the procedure as she was crisscrossing the country while shooting Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall. She laughed as she recalled getting a shot from her celebrity hairstylist Johnny Wright while in the back of an Uber.
It was a process Hall had been through several times in the past, unsuccessfully. Though some women might have postponed the process during such a busy time, Hall had learned through past experience that it didn't really matter.
"Both (the show and the baby) were so out of my control and that was the similarity," she said. "I can only put so much into both of those."
Now that both have come to fruition, she finds herself doing the working-mother juggle and relishing the opportunity.
"I took that as, 'Mom, I'm safe, I'm good, I'm going to sleep restful right here, right now, you go do it Mommy, you go get it,’ and that's been satisfying for me as a working mom, because there's been a lot of real guilt," she said.
She recalled her own mother, a single mom at 19, working multiple jobs to provide for her children.
"So now I get this daytime talk show, far more glamorous to working in a leather factory, and I get to come home to my mom sitting right there, helping me with my son," she said, through tears.
It's an emotional moment, but also a very relatable one, and what she hopes to convey with the new show.
"That is my life. That's the show I want to do. That's the voice I want to have. And I think that it's where I'm supposed to be," she said.
(Associated Press contributed to this column.)
Robert Francis is editor of the Fort Worth Business Press.