August 28, 2004
No one’s delivered a couch yet, but Jane Pauley is giving a tour of the Rockefeller Center studio where her new daytime talk show will start Monday. The audience seats are arranged in a semicircle for a feeling of intimacy.
Behind her is the wall that opens up to reveal the word ‘‘Jane’’ in giant letters.
She wishes she could say the star treatment she received from audiences during run-throughs was awkward or embarrassing for someone who delivered the news to a camera for 30 years.
Instead, she kind of likes it.
Her daughter, a Yale University student, already can do a drop-dead impersonation of mom walking onstage and soaking up the adulation.
‘‘It was very exciting until a week or two later when I heard about the ‘applause’ signs,’’ she said. ‘‘But it’s still exciting.’’
‘‘The Jane Pauley Show,’’ trading on the warmth and goodwill its star built during years as ‘‘Today’’ show and ‘‘Dateline NBC’’ host, is the season’s most anticipated syndicated program. Stations in 148 of the nation’s 150 top markets committed to airing it, an unprecedented level of support for a rookie airing.
‘‘That is really something frightening and every now and then I do have flutters of pressure,’’ she said. ‘‘But they subside.’’
It wasn’t where she expected to be when she announced last year she was quitting ‘‘Dateline’’ to pursue other opportunities. Soon after, she agreed to a meeting with the chief of NBC’s syndication arm chiefly as a courtesy.
But when the idea of a daytime talk show was pitched, Pauley said she realized it might be the best way of advancing her own ideas and interests. As a news anchor, she was always the face in front of somebody else’s show.
‘‘I realized that everything I had been thinking about would lend itself to a daytime talk show topic,’’ she said. ‘‘It was about 100 times bigger and more responsibility than I had imagined, but on the other hand I had done television for 30 years. That’s what I do.’’
A glance at the board outlining the first month’s topics shows where it is headed. There’s a talk with a design psychologist, an expert to help people erase credit card debit, a segment on cleaning up clutter, a ‘‘lunch hour makeover’’ and an exploration of why so many people are overweight.
Pauley, 53, genuflects in the direction of Oprah Winfrey, who she called fabulous, filled with charisma and ‘‘bigger than life.’’
‘‘I’m not,’’ she says. ‘‘I’m pretty much life-sized. All I can do is make a virtue of that.’’
‘‘The Jane Pauley Show’’ airs 3 p.m. weekdays on KNXV-TV (Channel 15)