Nellie Andreeva

With a slew of daytime syndicated talk show projects jockeying for a fall 2012 berth, a big one is entering the fray for fall 2013. Queen Latifah is set to host a new daytime talk show that Flavor Unit, her company with Shakim Compere, will co-produce with Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. Compere and Overbrook’s Miguel Melendez, who were instrumental in getting the project together, will serve as executive producers with Queen Latifah and Overbrook’s Lassiter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Queen Latifah and Smith have a lot in common — both started in hip-hop before segueing into acting and then producing and both have earned Oscar nominations. In fact, Latifah’s first role was an arc on NBC’s The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, which starred Smith, also in his first acting gig. “We’ve had a long and successful history both personally and professionally with Overbrook’s Miguel, JL, Jada and Will,” Compere said. “We share a common vision and have been wanting to collaborate for quite some time.” In addition to Queen Latifah’s work with Smith on Fresh Prince, she starred opposite his wife, Pinkett Smith, in the 1996 movie Set It Off. “We are excited to join forces with Latifah and as well as Sony Pictures TV on this new venture,” Melendez said. “This forum is the perfect place to showcase Latifah’s tremendous range of talents and unique ability to connect and inspire people.” Sony TV’s relationship with Pinkett Smith and Overbrook stems from their recent collaboration on the TNT series Hawthorne, which starred Pinkett Smith and was produced by Sony and Overbrook. Additionally, Overbrook has had a long relationship with Sony on the film side, most recently producing together the hit Karate Kid remake.

Sony could’ve fast-tracked the talk show for a fall 2012 launch but opted to give it time to develop the way the studio did with The Dr. Oz Show, which has been the No. 1 syndicated daytime talk show in women 25-54 for the past three weeks. Sony TV does not have a contender for fall 2012 as the studio has been very selective with daytime projects, taking its time to find one that it feels it can throw its full support behind. Besides, the 2012 field is overcrowded already with talk shows hosted by Katie Couric and Steve Harvey already cleared for launch, Maury spin-off Trisha Goddard close to a go after getting picked up by Sinclair a week ago, and several other shows — including Twentieth’s Ricki Lake, Warner Bros’ Bethenny Frankel and CBS TV Distribution’s Jeff Probst — looking for station clearances.

Queen Latifah first hosted a syndicated daytime talk show a decade ago: The Telepictures-produced Queen Latifah Show launched in 1999 and ran for two seasons. Flavor Unit made a strong entry into scripted series this year with the launch of two shows, Let’s Stay Together on BET and Single Ladies on VH1, both of which have been renewed for a second season. Coming up on the feature side is Warner Bros’ Joyful Noise starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. Overbrook has produced feature films that have generated more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office. The company’s next feature is the Fox title This Means War.

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