Clinton May Yak on CBS

Michael Fleming and Michael Schneider
Variety

NEW YORK (Variety) – Could Bill Clinton really be coming to a small screen near you?

Rumors to that effect have surfaced again on word that syndication powerhouse King World and the CBS-owned stations are pursuing the idea with Clinton’s camp. Both firms are units of Viacom Inc.

The show would probably be a cross between “Oprah,” which King World distributes, and “Nightline” and air in daytime.

The current talks are similar to the ones held in May, when Clinton’s longtime Arkansas pals Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason brought in NBC executives to meet with the former president about fronting such a talk show.

NBC ultimately didn’t make a deal with the Thomasons.

King World execs haven’t apparently yet met with the 42nd president, but have talked with people involved with the project — including attorneys close to the leader — about creating a Clinton vehicle.

CBS’ owned-and-operated stations would air the daytime strip, while King World would syndicate the project in other markets.

CBS and King World execs are approaching the negotiations with caution, noting that Clinton has not officially signed on to the project.

For a show to be ready in time for a fall 2003 launch, Clinton will have to make a final decision within the next month whether or not to go ahead.

“The former president will soon have to make up his mind,” one source noted.

Besides the Thomasons, other producers potentially involved include former King World exec Jules Haimovitz, who now runs Dick Clark Prods. The latter company was recently acquired by Mosaic Media Group and CDP Capital.

Aside from getting Clinton to actually say yes, other issues have to be resolved before a chatfest would become reality.

These include the matter of money: According to media reports in May, Clinton would demand a hefty $50 million check upfront. Others say his asking price is much lower.

And even if the ex-president were to assent to the show, producers would have to make sure he was truly committed to hosting a five-day-a-week series.

A potential Clinton yakker made waves when NBC initially held its discussions with the former president.

At the time, a Clinton spokesperson confirmed that the ex-president had met with NBC, but cautioned that he hadn’t actually declared his candidacy for a talk show gig.