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Mel's Diner



Mel's Diner: Hilary Estey McLoughlin

March 8, 2007 9:15 PM

The Dish: Mark my words. Rosie O’Donnell will be back with a single-host talk show in all of her more-candid-than-ever glory.

Who: Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president, Telepictures Productions
When: Tuesday, March 7, lunch
Where: Sushi Katsu-Ya, Studio City

The Dish: Mark my words. Rosie O’Donnell will be back with a single-host talk show in all of her more-candid-than-ever glory.

And for my money, Warner Bros. will be involved.

I had lunch on Tuesday with Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, the Warner Bros. division that produced Rosie’s former blockbuster chat fest (which, by the way, Hilary executive produced).

No, Hilary did not slip me a peek at some top secret pact under a Katsu-Ya menu. (Of course, the menu there is on a dry erase board.)

Yes, Hilary said all the things she should have, considering Rosie’s signature is on a contract giving ABC first crack at whatever the comedienne might leave “The View” to do. “A lot of companies are interested” and “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hilary told me.

But she spoke volumes by explaining how she sees her longtime friend Rosie, both personally and professionally. As well as what makes a successful talk show.

Rosie is “big on e-mail” and “a good soul,” Hilary told me. “I wonder why people never see that.”

Rosie is one of the most charitable celebs around, having given something like $50 million away, Hilary said.

I asked Hilary flat out whether a solo talk show would work with Rosie today, given her penchant for sharing her often controversial thoughts as readily and openly as she does on “The View.”

“Yes,” Hilary said without hesitation. “Even if you don’t agree with her, she compels you to listen to her.”

Hilary believes that a host has to be authentic for a talk show to work, and you can’t get much more candid than Rosie, circa today.

There’s a history, an understanding and a track record between Rosie and Hilary that seems to point to them ultimately collaborating again. Call it a hunch.

They even sound alike.

“People say that,” Hilary said. “She’s Long Island, I’m Queens.”

Clearly they’re tight. And that’s to be expected when people work together on long-running daily talk shows.

Hilary, a 21-year veteran of Warners, has produced many talk shows. Telepictures currently is home to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Tyra Banks Show.” Hilary speaks highly of Ellen and Tyra too.

For someone known to be dedicated and serious about her work, Hilary was far more chilled out and downright funny over sushi than I expected. She busts her butt, but has a sense of humor about it.

“My daughter calls my BlackBerry my ‘toxic waste of time,’” she said while talking about how tempting it is to use the device while driving.

This week one of the things she’s juggling is finding a home for the TMZ operation.

She has her eye on space along Sunset Boulevard that might accommodate both the celeb news Web site and the syndicated television show based on it that’s due to launch this fall.

The TV show will not be shot in a studio but rather smack dab in the middle of the newsroom, Hilary told me.

TMZ creator Harvey Levin will have an on-air presence along with a number of personalities, all of whom will have strong POVs, serving as hosts.

“It’s not going to be a traditional, ‘Extra’ or ‘Access Hollywood’ two-host format,” she said.

The idea is to capture the sense of urgency and immediacy associated with TMZ.com, famous for breaking the Mel Gibson’s DUI tirade.

“It’s fast and furious and unfiltered,” she said. “TMZ is not sugar-coated. That’s why people like it.”

Dined On: The Katsu-Ya in Studio City, unassuming from the outside, is in a strip mall. Once you step in, though, it’s crammed and busy. It is not hard to tell why.

It’s no-nonsense. The food is excellent. And our tuna with frizzled onions, spicy tuna over crispy rice (my favorite) and yellowtail with jalapeno showed up right away. The lobster dynamite was not far behind.

“This place is all about over-delivering,” Hilary said, stating her preference for this Katsu-Ya over the newer, more glam location near her home in Brentwood.

The Westside restaurant is known as a scene and for making A-listers wait.

On a recent dinner out to the Brentwood location, Hilary saw one famous-ish person skip the delay: “Girls Gone Wild” mogul Joe Francis.

My take: If the guy can convince hundreds of girls to flash on film I imagine he has a line or two ready for the maitre d.

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Comments (7)

I LOVE Rosie and only watch THE VIEW to see her. I think she should go to HBO like Bill Maher. Let THE VIEW sink...I do agree that Rosie may be too controversial for them and don't really fault their format but she's just too good for the constant second guessing and scrutiny. It's all very distracting to say the least. Come on, Rose...make the switch. You know you want to...we need you out here in middle America. You are ALL soul!

MJ Avila:

A good soul protects her country - I refuse to listen to all her trash!
Warner Brothers should think about a Rosie Solo Act in another country - such Iran.
That's where she belongs!!!!!

Franky:

Rosie is alot more real than you ever be !!!

krit:

yes I would! Go Rosie!!!!!!

phyliss Cunningham:

i love rosie. i think she is best! any place she goes..she will shine

Ken:

I can vouch that Hilary is one lady who should have a talk show. One of the funniest people ever.

Everyon ehas a right to share their views and in this way we can aslo know what people think of us.

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