Vulture has reported that Smith is working on a pilot for what could become a daily, syndicated half-hour gab fest featuring Smith and, presumably, some of his celebrity friends.
According to the report, the show may air after “TMZ” on Fox stations around the country in the 6 to 8 p.m. time slot. While this doesn’t sound like a done deal, some are already reacting strongly to the concept; Julie Miller at Movieline has said she’d rather see several other directors — from Quentin Tarantino to Diablo Cody — host a show over Mr. Smith.
Personally, I think a Smith talk show could be pretty entertaining if it’s handled properly. In that spirit, here are my five suggestions for how to turn Kevin Smith’s possible talk show into something excellent. Because I am sure Kevin Smith is just dying to know what I think.
Recommendation One: Rotate co-hosts
According to an e-mail obtained by Vulture, Smith will have a co-host. Presumably the plan is to have one consistent talk show partner, but let me suggest this: don’t do that. Kevin Smith is a great conversationalist, but one who is less likely to get stale or repetitive if he’s got a new person to bounce stuff off of on a regular basis. I say book a different co-host each week, which will keep things interesting for both Smith and viewers.
Recommendation two: Book multiple celebrity guests.
Most talk shows interview a single person at a time. But Smith should borrow a page from the hosts that don’t do it that way, like Graham Norton or Bill Maher. With multiple guests, the potential for unexpected celebrity match-ups and spontaneous riffing only intensifies. Of course, this idea is hamstrung somewhat by the fact that Smith’s show will reportedly only last 30 minutes. If he’s smart, he’ll devote most of it to the intra-celeb banter and lose that proposed videotaped comedy bit from the field.
Recommendation three: Serve snacks and adult beverages.
Again, cribbing from Graham Norton as well as Jon Favreau’s ”Dinner for Five” here: if this program is going to air in the early evening time period, then make it feel like a happy hour. If someone told you to watch a Kevin Smith talk show, you might be on the fence. But if someone said, hey, every day you can eavesdrop on a conversation over beers between Smith and, say, Matt Damon and Sarah Silverman, you’d be up for that, right?
Recommendation four: Open the show by answering a spontaneous question from an audience member.
If you’ve ever seen Smith perform live or on DVD, then you know he possesses an uncanny ability to turn an answer to almost any question into an entertaining, extemporaneous narrative. Obviously the dude shouldn’t talk for too long, but rather than ”discuss water-cooler topics at the top of the show” with his co-host (which is a little too “Regis and Kelly”), Smith should choose one question from the audience and just riff on it for a couple of minutes. (Hopefully said question would be something topical, like “Hey, Kevin, what do you think about the end of the NFL lock-out?” which would lead to a dissertation on why hockey is more important to Smith than football or something.) Smith needs to play to his strengths and come across as improvisational, not studio-packaged and canned. Otherwise, he’ll lose his base and won’t seem compelling or different to potential new fans either.
Recommendation five: End the show with a pop cultural debate.
Smith has no shortage of opinions on movies, TV shows and comics. He should make that part of the agenda by asking his celebrity panel (because, again, there will be more than one guest) to weigh in on a pressing entertainment-related question (“What’s better: ‘The Hunger Games’ or the ‘Twilight’ series?”) or help him make a list (“Five movie scenes most likely to make you cry: go!”) He can then direct people to his Twitter feed and website at the end of each half-hour to continue the conversation. Again, right in the Smith wheelhouse and fun for his guests.
Now the inevitable question: if a Smith talk show happens, will you watch?