08/04/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT
>Late Night's Latest Talkers
KEENEN VS. VIBE VS. MAGIC
ENJOY THE MOMENTARY CALM, DAVE AND Jay. With the debut on Aug. 4 of Vibe and The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show, a new round of talk show wars is about to begin. Some say it's long overdue. "The audience we want is not watching late-night TV," says music mogul Quincy Jones, executive producer of the syndicated Vibe (named after his monthly magazine), of the young, black, mostly female viewers who tuned out after The Arsenio Hall Show folded in 1994.
Even the same old guests, they vow, will be delivered with a difference. "If Tom Cruise
comes on," says comic Chris Spencer, Vibe's 29-year-old host, "maybe we'll set up a hoop game. I want Baby Face on the same show as Colin Powell."
Comedy is central to Wayans (creator of In Living Color), who will mix celeb chat and an all-female band but forgo a sidekick. "If you look at Letterman and Leno, their demographics are getting older," says Mort Marcus, president of Buena Vista TV, the syndicated show's distributor. "There is room for an urban-based variety talk show."
But is there room for three? We'll see early next year, when Magic Johnson takes a shot at emceeing his own as-yet-untitled syndicated show. "Keenen and Vibe will have a hip-hop slant, Magic will appeal to a wider audience," predicts one industry insider. Wayans's Marcus downplays a rivalry. "We'll be up against newscasts, Vibe and sitcom reruns," he says. "Everything is our competition."