TORONTO — Beloved broadcaster Marilyn Denis endured a couple of false starts over the past two years as she and CTV worked to bring her new daytime lifestyles and entertainment talk show to air.
She says the sluggish economy stalled the development of The Marilyn Denis Show in fall 2008, and then in the fall of 2010 the launch was further delayed as construction continued on a new studio.
Now, with the show finally set to debut Monday, Denis says she’s happy she didn’t have to return to TV immediately after she left her longtime hosting gig at Citytv’s Cityline about 2 1/2 years ago.
“My mother got sick and so I was travelling a lot to Calgary, so in a way it was a blessing,” Denis, longtime co-host of CHUM FM radio’s morning show Roger, Darren and Marilyn, said in a recent interview.
“My mother passed away a year ago in July but it was great that I could be there with my sisters, be there obviously with my mother and be there for my dad in Calgary. And the economy being what it was … it almost was a blessing.”
Like Cityline — which Denis left when it became a property of Rogers Media — The Marilyn Denis Show will focus on entertainment and lifestyles topics, including fashion, cooking and decor, and feature guests and a team experts in front of a live studio audience.
But the new series will be more celebrity-driven, she said, noting she can now easily nab notables as they drop in to the downtown CTV building to appear on MuchMusic or entertainment news show eTalk.
Monday’s star guest is Desperate Housewives heart-throb James Denton. On Tuesday, recording artist Josh Groban stops by the set, which resembles a condo with an exposed brick wall and cozy furnishings.
Clint Howard, brother to director Ron Howard, is slated to be on Wednesday’s episode and Friday’s guest is Canadian actor Jason Priestley.
Denis said she’s received emails from fans “every day” for the last two years, wondering what the new show will be like.
Their feedback has taught her that her audience wants to see more stars, have more “fun” and feel connected.
“That’s our big thing — have fun, fun, fun,” she said. “I mean, we’ll talk about some serious things but really … it’s about making your life better, feeling good about yourself and having some fun while you’re doing it.”
Denis and her producers plan to pay close attention to what viewers are saying on the show’s social media platforms, designed to give audiences at home a place to chat after the show has aired (from 10 to 11 a.m. Eastern).
And fans’ interests could be quickly reflected on the show, she said.
“The show is going to be very fluid,” said Denis. “There’s not going to be certain things that are designated on certain days.”
Contributors to the show, who were picked from an open casting call, include former sports broadcaster Cabral Richards as a “special correspondent” on the streets.
Expert guests include Dr. Kymm Feldman for the health segments, fashion commentator Afiya Francisco and interior design specialist Michelle Mawby.
For Denis, returning to TV means getting back to a gruelling weekday schedule that starts with a 4 a.m. wakeup, followed by her 5:30 a.m. start at CHUM FM, then her TV show and an afternoon workout.
But she’s ready for it.
For the past two years Denis has been hitting the gym three days a week, right after her morning radio show has wrapped, to maintain her energy level during her new show’s time slot.
Now, she’s feeling “good” and “healthy” and is eager to get back on the stage and be face-to-face with a live audience again, she said.
“How lucky am I, at 52 — and proud to say I’m 52 — that I get to do a national talk show? Wow! That’s fantastic.”
And she has no plans to leave radio, either.
“Not unless they kick me to the curb,” she said. “I love doing the CHUM FM morning show. Roger and I have been together, it’ll be 25 years, in June and Darren joined us about three years ago and we have a blast.”
The Marilyn Denis Show will also air on A channel daily at 3 p.m.