Kristen Baldwin
August 02, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Will the talk-show world ever learn? Just months after a slew of Ricki Lake clones — Gabrielle, Tempestt, and Carnie — were sent to a ratings-deprived grave, producers are looking for a host to duplicate the success of Rosie O’Donnell. ”Agents come out of the woodwork, and they all have the next Rosie,” says Andy Friendly, exec VP of programming and production for King World, which distributes The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Donny Osmond, a running gag on The Rosie O’Donnell Show since he poked fun at her weight when he appeared on the show in June, will costar in a show, and other hosts are being pitched, including David Brenner, Vicki Lawrence, and Sinbad. And Friendly says King World is considering a well-known male star for an O’Donnell-style ”talk-variety program.” But won’t most Rosie clones go the way of the canceled Ricki rip-offs? Probably. ”What happens is, people go after these giant names [to host a show], and nobody bothers to ask, ‘Can they even do it?”’ says Mark Itkin of the William Morris Agency, which is currently developing an ”Oprah-ish” program for Naomi Judd.

At least Osmond has some previous experience. The one-time pop idol is being shopped by CAA as a cohost for a daytime show with such potential partners as Moon Unit Zappa and Martha Quinn. The format, says Osmond, will be a cross between Regis and Kathie Lee and O’Donnell’s show. More important, will Marie be a guest? ”That,” he says, ”is a definite.”

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