Will & Jada backing 'Queen Latifah'

ASSOCIATED PRESS Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are the producers behind "The Queen Latifah Show."
ASSOCIATED PRESS Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are the producers behind "The Queen Latifah Show."
Posted: September 17, 2013

* THE QUEEN LATIFAH SHOW. 3 p.m. today, CBS3.

* SLEEPY HOLLOW. 9 tonight, Fox 29.

QUEEN LATIFAH enters the daytime-talk fray today with some powerful friends at her back.

"The Queen Latifah Show" - which in Philly will air at 3 p.m. weekdays on CBS3, opposite "Katie" on 6ABC and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on NBC10 - is the first foray into daytime TV for Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment, and the Philly-born star and his actress wife and producing partner, Jada Pinkett Smith, are executive producers.

He's also scheduled to be a guest on tomorrow's show.

Overbrook's wanted to be in the daytime arena for a while, Pinkett Smith said after a news conference in the show's Culver City, Calif., studio this summer.

"We've had a couple of opportunities to do it, and we [thought], 'Who would be the best to do this?' And said, 'Latifah.' So I gave Latifah and call and I just asked her. I said, 'La, are you ready?' "

(Earlier, the show's host had explained, in response to a reporter's question, what people can call her: "Most of my friends, Jada, they call me 'La,' so I figured everyone could call me 'La.' Some people will call me 'Dana' [her given name], some people will call me 'Queen,' regardless of what I ask them to call me.")

One thing the famously outspoken Pinkett Smith never apparently considered was hosting the show herself.

"I have a very special talent," she joked. "My talent is talking about all the things that nobody really wants to talk about. One of the No. 1 rules of daytime is, 'Don't stress me [the viewer] out.' And of course, I love to talk about everything that stresses everybody out."

Look for her to instead work behind the scenes, including, perhaps, calling on celebrity friends to be "Queen Latifah" guests.

"You always got to make phone calls," she said, laughing. "That's part of the game, baby."

But as someone whose family's been on the other side of the booking wars, she insisted that she wouldn't be playing the games some shows do, such as insisting on being someone's first stop.

As for how her family - whose performers include the couple's children, Jaden and Willow - deals with the games that bookers play, she said: "There's always ways to get around that. There's always all kinds of unique negotiations and things that you can have with people. Because everybody just wants to feel special and feel catered to, in a way. So, there's all kinds of exchanges you can give," she said. "There's enough room for everybody."

Not-so-sleepy 'Hollow'

Here's what I can say for sure about "Sleepy Hollow," the drama with which Fox today kicks off its fall season: There's nothing sleepy about it.

Beyond that, I'm nearly as lost as Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is when he wanders into modern-day New York state from 1776, unaware that the American Revolution is over and that his side won.

And wouldn't you know, he's still being menaced by a headless horseman. A fearsome creature whose 21st-century firepower doesn't match his 18th-century duds, this headless wonder probably isn't what Washington Irving had in mind: He's now one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Which might as well be the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame for all the sense I can make of the show's mythology.

Yet, I'm not ready to give up on "Sleepy Hollow," which also stars Nicole Beharie ("42") as Detective Abbie Mills, who'll become Ichabod's partner in crime-solving (but not before enduring a hilariously patronizing speech about his abolitionist beliefs), and whose producers include two of the co-creators of "Fringe."

That one, too, was complicated, but I grew to love it. I'm not sure what they're up to (or smoking) on "Sleepy Hollow," but I'm willing to ride this dark horse a little further.

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray

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