Oprah Winfrey could have said the same thing. The end of her 25-year-old talk show last year left a power vacuum in daytime talk that many competitors scrambled to fill, unleashing chaos in the sunny realm of morning and afternoon chat. Some combatants were new to the arena, some returned after long absences, and some were battle-scarred veterans who had never left the field. At stake: the loyalties of viewers (many of them searching for a new daytime haven after Oprah’s departure) and the dollars of sponsors (ditto).
The battle began in earnest with the launching of no fewer than six new shows in September and October. By the end of November, however, ratings sweeps began to make clear who was on top, who was struggling, and who was on their way out.
Some stayed just above the fray — or just below it. The View is, by now, an institution, one that can survive any cast change to its panel and still land big, enviable “gets” like the Obamas. At the other end of the food chain, Maury Povich and Jerry Springer maintain an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it attitude to their long-running circus-freak sideshows, which will always have a loyal if not large following.
Here, then, is a gallery of the winners and losers of daytime talk in 2012. Relish their victories, lament their defeats, but always remember: behind all that happy chatter lie untold reserves of ruthless ambition.
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