“American Idol” launches its farewell stretch of live episodes at 7 p.m. Thursday on WVUE, but judge Harry Connick Jr. won’t hurt for activity after the show reaches its mid-April finale.
Indeed, time management remains one of the most impressive of the New Orleans native’s talents, which include singing, piano-playing, songwriting, bandleading, acting, “American Idol” judging, comic tweeting, husbanding and parenting.
Also Carnival krewing. Connick rolled this past season with the Krewe of Orpheus, the parading and Orpheuscapading Carnival organization he co-founded in 1993.
A standout on the “American Idol” judges panel since the 2014 season (and a contestant mentor before that), Connick plans to take his band on tour (dates to be announced) after “Idol” wraps.
Then he’ll take a day job, maybe for the first time in his life.
“Harry,” a hybrid (talk, comedy, music) syndicated daytime show that will air locally on WVUE, debuts Sept. 12.
“I love entertaining and I love music and comedy and getting to know people,” Connick said. “I get to do that every day under the same roof in a fun, unscripted way.
“The discussion to do a show has been around for about 20 years. I wasn’t ready to do it. It required me to be at a certain point in my life, where 10 years ago, I wasn’t there.”
The new hourlong show is the product of a partnership between Connick and brothers Justin and Eric Stangel, former executive producers of CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman.”
The team originally developed a sitcom starring Connick for Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company. Though that project never got off the ground, the daytime variety show will.
Connick and the Stangels tested the “Harry” concept with three pilot episodes, featuring guests Mariska Hargitay, Dakota Fanning, Mindy Kaling, Colin Farrell and Kim Burrell. The show will originate from New York City, and Connick will work without a sidekick.
“I sing and play and do a lot of stuff that’s very unstructured,” Connick said. “Ellen (DeGeneres) has a lot of fun (on her show), but I think our show is going to be a different type of fun.
“I’ve got my band with me every day, playing music every day. Instead of playing for 10,000 people, we’ll be playing for 10 million people every day, hopefully.”
“Harry” will be syndicated nationally by NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, which announced recently that the show will be available in more than 90 percent of U.S. TV homes.
“Speaking to NBCUniversal, the priority was breaking the mold in daytime television,” said Tim Ingram, vice president and general manager of WVUE. “It’s a big band, it’s Harry Connick doing what he does best, which is being Harry Connick.
“(In) daytime television, you can only put five people around a roundtable for so long. You can only have someone talking to three people about their new movie for so long. To have something new and fresh and vibrant in the space, I couldn’t be more excited to have him.”
Daytime can be rough, though, as Queen Latifa, Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, Bethenny Frankel and “Survivor” host Jeff Probst have learned in recent years. All were big-name talents who tried and failed to sustain syndicated daytime shows.
It’s also a potential extended gold strike in success, as Steve Harvey, “Dr. Phil” McGraw, New Orleans’ “Ellen” DeGeneres, various judges — include “Judge Judy” Sheindlin, the current national syndication ratings champ — and, of course, all-time daytime queen “Oprah” Winfrey have demonstrated.
“Harry” and a show starring preacher T.D. Jakes are the most high-profile of the prospective syndication launches for 2016.
“It definitely is a gamble,” said Marc Berman, whose Programming Insider website tracks TV industry news and ratings. “When I heard he was doing it, I wasn’t overly shocked. He’s the next one to do this.
“I think the intentions are good. The question is, is anybody going to watch Harry?”
“Anybody,” in this context, means adult women, the core daytime audience.
“Will they like Harry Connick Jr.?” Berman said. “Maybe. Personally, I think it’s a good thing for the business.
“If good intentions equal ratings, then congratulations.”