>You don't have to be a comedian to be a successful talk show host, but ready wit is still a prime qualification. Of the new daytime entries (syndicated; check local listings), The Ellen DeGeneres Show
is the best because the star draws on her standup comedy background to make sure the laughs outnumber the lulls. DeGeneres opens with a loose, amusing monologue and works the crowd easily in audience-participation segments. She actually seems to listen to her guests (including A-listers like Justin Timberlake
and Kim Cattrall), so her quips sound conversational rather than canned.
Living It Up! with Ali & Jack teams comic actress Alexandra "Ali" Wentworth (Jerry Maguire) with former newsman Jack Ford (Good Morning America
), and the show is sometimes as strained as its title. Ford, 53, and Wentworth, 38, are obviously working the same territory as Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa
, but they appear to be under the misimpression that they can establish a good, joshing relationship simply by stressing their age difference. He comes across as pleasant but dull; she seems to pull back every time a bit of her sarcasm slips out.
The Sharon Osbourne Show stars a woman who wouldn't have this job in a million years if she hadn't become nationally known as wacky rocker Ozzy Osbourne's wife on the MTV reality series The Osbournes
. On a cluttered set that's supposed to look homey, she curls up on the couch and coos at visiting celebs. (Select males, such as Julio Iglesias Jr., are chatted up in bed.) Osbourne tells the guests they're cute and lets them plug their projects, while her dogs often wander into camera range. She seems nice, but what the devil is she doing here?