If Dan Miller were a circus artist, he'd be walking the high wire without a net. In fact, the man many will remember as co-host and announcer of the short-lived "Pat Sajak Show" is attempting the TV equivalent of that feat. Today (at 1 p.m.) he became the host of "Miller & Company," a new live talk show to air daily on The Nashville Network.
"Actually, it's fun," Mr. Miller said. "Everything is coming together very quickly, and I'm really enjoying myself.
"The news business is live," he adds, "so you get the feeling for [it]. When I was doing election coverage [on WSMV-TV in Nashville, 1969-86], I always felt it was most fun when stuff 'broke down.' When you're unprepared, things go better. It takes the pressure off."
Playing to that low-pressure high, Mr.Miller says he will do minimal homework and exchange only small talk with guests before each show. "I'll pop in and say hi or introduce myself. The producers will talk with them to find out stuff, subjects they may want to talk about or ones they want to avoid. But I don't talk too much before the interview. ... It takes away the natural spontaneity."
Mr. Miller's first-week lineup looks like this: Today, Marty Stuart; tomorrow, Bobby Goldsboro; Wednesday, Eddie Rabbitt; Thursday, Joe Diffie; and Friday, Cheryl Wheeler.
Which brings us to the one-hour, one-guest format, a meaty main-course kind of program vs. the selection of tidbits.
"That's our initial thought," Mr. Miller says. "We want to be able to get to more than the latest album or the upcoming tour. But then, maybe not every day. Maybe it will work out that we have a star and an 'ordinary character,' like this old fellow we found
out about. He's in his '70s, but in his younger days, he ran moonshine.
"The first week or two will be evolution time," Mr. Miller says. "Three weeks into it, it may not look the same."
Some things are expected to remain constant: the announcer, in-studio and sometimes on-camera producers, and phone producers taking viewer calls on an 800 line.
"The first month is virtually all country music people," Mr. Miller says, "and we're trying to get other [high-profile] guests, like Dr. Joyce Brothers and Ivana Trump.
"But we're not a comedy show," he emphasizes. "We're not really a musical show or even a talk show. We're an interview show, and we hope the conversation will be friendly and natural."
For his part, Mr. Miller says all that he can bring to the program is his own personality. "It's the only thing I have to offer that's fresh every day, and you never know where the chemistry will happen."