Queen Latifah turns 45 today, and she certainly has a lot to celebrate. She’s a beautiful, talented, and award-winning entertainer (two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Grammy, plus an Oscar nomination for her role in Chicago) with a wicked sense of humor. She’s getting some early awards buzz for her portrayal of Bessie Smith in the upcoming HBO film Bessie (due May 16), so her acting return is on the horizon. However, with Latifah’s second self-titled talk show getting canceled in November — the last episode aired March 6 — it seems like she can’t quite conquer the couch-and-coffee world. She has all the equipment, so what gives?
The Queen Latifah Show’s first run lasted a little more than two years (1999-2001), and its recent reboot barely scraped the 15-month mark. Now, it’s not like the show didn’t have promise: the September 2013 premiere was the highest rated talk show launch since Dr. Oz in 2009. She even won the People’s Choice Award in 2014 for Favorite New Talk Show Host. Even still, the ratings gradually slipped as Latifah failed to find her groove. It’s a tragedy, really, but not totally her fault.
We’ve broken down the reasons why daytime and Latifah don’t exactly mix. Take a look, and let us know if you’re rooting for a third talk show attempt (we are!) in the comments below.
1. It’s hard out there for a
pimp new host (see: Bethenny Frankel).
With seasoned titans like Ellen DeGeneres and Wendy Williams still going strong, it’s hard for any emerging host to make a splash and stick. Just look at veteran media personality Katie Couric, who everyone thought was perfect for daytime; her talk show only lasted a little under two years before getting the boot. The same thing happened to Frankel, whose specialty brand of snarkiness didn’t translate to the 4 PM set. Other amazing people who have failed at this game? Megan Mullally, Bonnie Hunt, and even Zach Galifianakis.
2. The transition from actress to host is difficult.
Latifah is fabulous, don’t get us wrong; however, perhaps she didn’t have that it factor to stand alone without screenwriters, musicians, or co-actors to help her along. Give her a song, and she’ll nail it. A monologue? She’ll have you in tears (of laughter and the feels). But talk show hosts don’t have these creative outlets to help them fill their 40-minute slots. It’s just them talking to an audience. Many great entertainers have tried this and failed (see above) — maybe because they underestimated how much a good script or lyrics help them be magnetic. In fact, from the list of current solo talk show hosts, only one was a true blue actress first: DeGeneres. Talented performer doesn’t always translate to stellar talk show host. And that’s OK!
3. We’ve seen it all before.
With so many talk shows competing for our attention, new ones need to have fresh, exciting angles. Unfortunately, while Latifah’s content was engaging — Zoe Saldana’s thoughts about being a strong woman, anyone? — it was very paint-by-numbers daytime shtick: celebrity guests, noteworthy “real” people, light commentary, and audience interaction. Had Latifah done something radically different, who knows what would’ve happened?
4. An upcoming show may have rattled Latifah producers’ cages.According to TheWrap, a veteran talk show host’s impending comeback possibly scared Latifah producers from doing another season. Tyra Banks is set to return to daytime this fall with a panel-style offering alongside Chrissy Teigen and Yahoo! Style Editor Joe Zee. TheWrap reports the pilot is “fantastic,” and a source also told the website, “People are running scared, because Tyra’s pilot is amazing, probably the best offering for the format next year. Whatever goes against Tyra has to be really strong.”
5. She’s meant to do other projects.Truthfully, we think Latifah is destined for bigger things besides daytime in 2015. With a triumphant return to acting coming up, she seems to be ushering a new chapter in her professional life. And we’re 100 percent here for it. Her last feature film role was 2012’s Joyful Noise, so the world is more than ready for some Latifah big screen realness. Plus, we’d kill to see her take a recurring role on a hot television show like Empire (so she can sing!) or American Horror Story (alongside Lady Gaga — picture the slayage). Simply put, this is the year the real Queen needs to shake it up.
Latifah said it best when she opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about her show ending last year: “I’ll come back out swinging,” she said. “That’s how I do…. You know me; I’ve been here for a while, and I’m going to keep going.” Damn straight.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]