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Who should replace Montel?

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Montel_lWord just got out that The Montel Williams Show is being canceled after 17 years, prompting a stunned nation to ask, “Wait — Montel Williams is still on the air?!” Seriously, though, an unscripted talk show got the ax in the middle of an intractable writer’s strike — that’s just harsh.

Here’s a more vexing question: Who deserves to take Montel’s spot in the daytime-talk pantheon? Personally, I’m thinking it would be great to shake things up with a less obvious candidate. Bear with me here. I’m getting an image of Gabriel Byrne teasing out guests’ innermost feelings with an endless array of intelligent, probing questions — but maybe that’s just because I was totally riveted by his performance on In Treatment last night. (I missed Monday’s and Tuesday’s eps, though, so I can’t speak to Annie’s complaints.) Or how about Daniel Day-Lewis? His Ledger-related breakdown on Oprah last week showed he’s got empathy to spare in a talk-show format, and we know he’d really sink himself into any part he takes.

Perhaps these are unrealistic choices. Okay, they definitely are — and the fact that I can’t remember the last time I was able to watch a syndicated daytime talk show all the way through is showing. Any of you PopWatchers have any brighter ideas, preferably not involving majorly intense actors from the British Isles?

Originally posted January 31 2008 — 9:21 PM EST

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