Craig Kilbourn returns to TV – sort of

Former late night talk show host and ESPN SportsCenter anchor Craig Kilbourn is making a comeback to TV – well, sort of.

Twentieth Television announced it has signed Kilbourn to host a nightly prime-access strip to air this summer, which will be tested on a few Fox-owned stations, including WNYW in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles.

The identity of other Fox-owned stations were not released. It is not known if WFLD and/or WPWR here in Chicago will participate in the test.

Kilbourn was Jon Stewart’s predecessor at Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Craig Ferguson’s predecessor at CBS’ Late, Late Show.

It is not known at this time whether or not if this new series, which is described as a combination of a daily talk show and a “nonpolitical talk show.” will air in either daytime or prime access.

The test is expected to last a few weeks and if it does air in prime access, it would likely replace some major off-network sitcoms currently airing on Fox-owned stations.

The move is unusual because most stations air game shows, news magazines, or off-net sitcoms in the hour before prime-time. Talk shows have had a spotty record in the prime access daypart. A few years ago, CBS-owned WWJ-TV in Detroit and CBS affiliate WKMG-TV in Orlando aired Dr. Phil in access, but wasn’t successful. KCAL-TV in Los Angeles currently airs Phil at 7 p.m., but is a repeat of a show that previously aired on sister station KCBS-TV.

During the 1988-89 season, then-ABC affiliate KTVI in St. Louis aired Geraldo at 6 p.m, replacing local news in a much-criticized move. After disastrous ratings, Geraldo moved to 4 p.m. in September 1989 and local news returned to 6 p.m., with Entertainment Tonight airing at 6:30 p.m. (KTVI is now a Fox affiliate.)

Kilbourn’s show is expected to air for two months. A start date has yet to be determined. Earlier on Wednesday, Tribune announced it was testing a talk show hosted by Cincinnati radio talk-show host Bill Cummingham on a few stations this summer, including WGN-TV in Chicago.

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