Without realizing it, Kris Jenner has been preparing for her own TV talk show for years.
She started making the rounds, chatting up a storm on everything from The Tonight Show to Larry King Live, after she achieved reality-TV fame on E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Then Jenner got a taste of what it’s like to handle some of the actual hosting duties.
“I did a couple of weeks on The Talk, co-hosted on The View, filled in for Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today show,” she says. “I enjoyed the process. I loved everything about it.
“I thought, ‘This would be so exciting if I could do it every day.’”
And now she gets to, at least for the next month-and-a-half.
Jenner’s new weekday talk show, Kris, begins a six-week test run in a handful of markets across the country, including KDFW/Channel 4 in North Texas. It premieres at 3 p.m. Monday.
“It really is a dream come true,” Jenner, 57, said during a publicity stop in Dallas in June. “When the offer to do this came in from 20th Century Fox, I was beyond excited.
“I grew up on Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin. I love, love, love talk shows. I have always enjoyed watching them. The ones I’m obsessed with today are [ The Ellen DeGeneres Show], Oprah and The View.”
You’ll notice that the favorites she cites are all “nice” talk shows, which gives you an idea of the kind of show she hopes to do.
No screaming, no ambushing guests, no chair-throwing on Jenner’s spacious set, which was inspired by the look of the entryway of her home, right down to the stylish black-and-white furniture.
“It’s not going to be tacky, not going to be snarky, not going to be mean-spirited,” she promises. “It’s going to be a fun lifestyle show. It’ll be very current, immersed in pop culture, but also a lot of fashion, beauty, fitness, health, food, cooking and design — all of the things I’m passionate about.”
Jenner says she doesn’t know if there’s any kind of ratings minimum she’ll have to meet before studio executives green-light a full season.
She does know that “they’re pulling out all the stops. They’ve spared no expense as far as production values go. I have their full support, as if it’s already a full-blown, crazy show.”
Jenner’s talk-show-host buddies, meanwhile, have advised her to “just be yourself.” Which is fitting, because that’s precisely what Jenner encourages her family members to do on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which is now filming its eighth season.
“We’re a show that doesn’t use scripts, no matter what anybody says,” says Jenner, who created the love-it-or-hate-it program to showcase her family, then brought it to E! with production partner Ryan Seacrest. “It just follows us and the things that happen in our lives.”
She admits she had high expectations for the show from the start.
“It was something I just knew would work,” she says. “But did I foresee Keeping Up With the Kardashians going into its eighth season? Did I know we’d have four shows on the air, counting spinoffs? Did I count on being in over 150 countries? No. I could have never predicted that kind of success.
“But I did dream it, because I dream big. Like my husband [former Olympic hero Bruce Jenner] says, ‘Dream big, work hard.’”
Jenner and her six kids (Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Rob, Kendall and Kylie) love life in the spotlight. They’re certainly in the news a lot, sometimes even when there’s no reason for them to be.
Jenner’s promotional visit to Dallas came just days after daughter Kim and rapper Kayne West welcomed a daughter, North, into the world. The tabloid media couldn’t devote enough coverage to it.
Jenner acknowledges that there are people who despise the E! show, “including many who have never actually seen it,” but she says the positive feedback greatly outweighs the negative.
“I got a letter from somebody last week that was so touching,” Jenner says. “It was from somebody whose mom was suffering from cancer and has been in the hospital forever. It turns out that the only thing that made her laugh was our show. It’s what gets her through this really horrible time.
“When you read that, you go, ‘Wow, even if we make just one person feel better, it’s worth it.’”