Country music star Faith Hill is expanding her résumé and heading behind the camera to executive-produce a new daytime talk show with Oprah veteran Lisa Erspamer.
The as-yet-untitled syndicated lifestyle program will be co-hosted by singer Kellie Pickler. (Both Hill and Pickler are represented by Creative Artists Agency.)
Pickler has long been a favorite of the small screen, having risen to fame on season five of American Idol. The 29-year-old won Dancing With the Stars in 2013, the same year she released the album The Woman I Am, which has moved 60,000 units, according to Nielsen Music. Pickler has sold 1.5 million albums total and is currently in the studio with husband-producer Kyle Jacobs, who has worked extensively with country singer Lee Brice. “This is a woman of so many talents,” says Hill. “She possesses the ability to reach far beyond the camera and into the hearts of people, allowing you to feel immediately connected to her.” Adds Erspamer: “Kellie is as real as anybody could ever be.”
Also executive-produced by Hill’s manager, Sandbox Entertainment’s Jason Owen, the show will cover such topics as cooking, home design, gardening and entertaining. Five to 10 experts from those various fields will be rotating guests, joining Pickler and one to two other co-hosts who have yet to be named. The program, which hails from Legendary Television, will be shopped to daytime syndicates in the coming weeks in hopes of a fall 2016 or 2017 launch.
“I got to see firsthand how women live on Pinterest,” says Erspamer, who served as a consultant for the company. “They’re looking at recipes and home design and all those types of things that make up a home and help you have a good quality of life. I felt like that type of show was really missing in daytime television.”
Although famous faces will occasionally stop by, Erspamer emphasizes “this isn’t a celebrity-contingent show.” Co-hosts will focus on personal anecdotes rather than front-page gossip: more Live With Kelly and Michael and less The View.
The show will film in Hill’s hometown of Nashville, allowing the singer, who has sold more than 20 million units (but hasn’t released a nonseasonal studio album since 2005’s Fireflies, which moved 2.3 million copies), to make occasional appearances in addition to her off-camera duties. But music will take a back seat to TV for Hill, whose last live outing was a residency at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with her husband, Tim McGraw.
“She has lots of great ideas and is also an incredible curator,” says Erspamer. “That’s why having Faith behind the scenes is really valuable for us.”
Erspamer recognizes the unique opportunities afforded by the show’s star power, as well as its prime location. However, musical guests will not be a regular occurrence. “We’ve talked about Dolly Parton and other country artists, but the show is not going to be about country music,” says Erspamer. “Nashville is Music City, so there’s music, really, everywhere,” she says. “It’s also an aspirational city that’s hip and cool.. We spend so much time programming to New York and Los Angeles, and we forget that there’s this whole vast world in between.”
Competition, though, persists — Harry Connick Jr. is set to launch his own syndicated talk show in Sept. 2016 — as does the more-than-occasional cancellation of such shows (Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric). Still, Faith and Co. are confident. Offers Erspamer: “The days are gone where you can just wrap an entire show around one personality. Having a specific point of view, that’s the difference.”