Friday, April 30, 2004

Dr. Phil, meet Dr. Howard 

Dean preps for talkshow 04/29/2004
Wed Apr 28, 8:00 PM ET

Josef Adalian, STAFF

Dr. Phil could soon be sharing the Paramount lot with another doc: Howard Dean (news - web sites).

While everything's still in the early talking stages, the former Democratic presidential candidate is mulling the idea of hosting his own syndicated gabfest. He's hooked up with ex-Big Ticket TV topper Larry Lyttle ("Judge Judy") and longtime political consultant Gerald Rafshoon, who would likely serve as exec producers of a pilot for any such project.

Dean is in Hollywood this week, and he's taking meetings with execs at Viacom-owned Paramount Domestic Television. Lyttle is still based on the Par lot, and he's helping Dean make the connection with the studio.

Lyttle spent much of last year working as a consultant for another former presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman (news - web sites). He and Rafshoon are also in talks with several other Washington insiders about opening a bicoastal political consulting group; company will likely have a media unit that would produce a few projects per year.

Dean has flirted with TV before, and insiders said the ex-Vermont governor received at least one substantial offer to host his own talkshow for a cable news net.

But Dean seems interested in going in a completely different direction.

"The last thing we're going to talk about is politics," Lyttle said. "We'd talk about a myriad of other things instead of politics."

Dean's skein would likely have more in common with the talkshow Bill Clinton (news - web sites) had been considering a few years back.

"He'd look at things like, What happens if you lose a sibling? What about when you're victimized by not having health care?" Lyttle said, arguing that Dean has the perfect persona for the small screen.

"He's a little bit of Howard Beale, a little Dr. Phil and a little Donahue all rolled into one," he said. "What was so appealing to me is the fact that he's not afraid to express an opinion."

Lyttle certainly has a track record for spotting talent and launching syndie successes.

His decision to gamble on "Judge Judy" resulted in one of the few game-changing syndie skeins of the 1990s. Lyttle also put together "Judge Joe Brown (news)" and was instrumental in casting Mo'Nique in "The Parkers."

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