Geraldo Rivera throws gauntlet at Larry King

TURNED ON IN L.A. -- Spring Preview

January 19, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Writer

Geraldo Rivera is coming to prime time, and he's got his sights set on Larry King's viewers.

Cable channel CNBC yesterday announced it will launch a new weeknight talk show Feb. 7 called "Rivera Live." The program, which will go head-to- head with King six nights a week at 9, will feature Rivera reporting, interviewing and taking phone calls from around the country.

"If I had to describe it, probably the most simple way would be to say it's 'Larry King' meets 'Crossfire,' with a little 'Nightline' thrown in," Rivera told TV critics in Los Angeles.

Rivera predicted that within six months, he'll be "on a level playing field with King" in terms of viewers. King's nightly audience is about 800,000.

"I think viewers will say, 'Why watch CNN, when there's a better program on CNBC?' " Rivera said.

Rivera said he sees the CNBC show as offering him a kind of professional "redemption."

He said he's happy with his syndicated daytime show and will continue to do it.

"I think it's rare in this capitalistic society for people not to do what they have to do, but what they want to do," he said of his work in daytime TV. "But the one thing it has not done is fulfill me in a spiritual sense."

CNBC will also launch three weekly evening talk shows on Feb. 7. They will feature NBC's Tim Russert and Al Roker, as well as MTV's Daisy Fuentes.

Kid stuff on USA

Cable channel USA will introduce a new Saturday night block of original programming aimed at young viewers on March 5.

"Duckman" is an animated comedy series about a down-on-his luck detective. Jason Alexander, from "Seinfeld," is the voice of Duckman.

Also arriving on March 5 is "Weird Science," starring John Mallory Asher and Michael Manasseri as two teen-agers who use their computer and a "little weird science to create the perfect woman," in the words of the cable network.

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