Light and cheerful daytime talk shows may stay the norm for fall 2013 even though nice folks like Jeff Probst and Ricki Lake were shown the door five months into their runs. Save for Katie Couric's mostly news-based show already renewed for a second season the vibe will remain buoyant and carefree, especially since Live! With Kelly and Michael and Ellen DeGeneres continue to dominate in syndication. On the network side, CBS' The Talk has surged way ahead of NBC's fourth hour of Today with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. So look out for new shows featuring Kris Jenner this summer, Queen Latifah in the fall, and Bethenny Frankel in 2014. ''Talk will always work,'' explains exec VP Stephen Brown of Twentieth Television (Dish Nation, Kris). ''For a lot of people, life is hard. They want to laugh to take their minds off of the doom and gloom.''
In this sea of nice, at least one studio is hedging its bets with edgier provocation for fall: CBS TV Distribution's The Test borrows a page from the tawdry work of Maury Povich and Jerry Springer (both of whom are still thriving, thank you very much). Already sold in syndication to more than half of the country, the daily show will literally do what the title promises in cases of paternity, drug use, and God knows what else. ''It resonates with the audience,'' says exec producer Jay McGraw (Phil's son). ''They like to see people come on TV at a pivotal time in their lives and leave with a resolution to a conflict.''