The rapper and actress premieres her syndicated chat-fest The Queen Latifah Show on Monday, September 16th, with her first guest John Travolta, followed by Will Smith, Sharon Stone, Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal. She’d love to have the president on, as well as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Coldplay and Kings of Leon. See more after the jump…
“The Queen Latifah Show” will air on CBS owned-and-operated stations in major markets and on different channels elsewhere in the country; timing also will vary. Daytime watchers will recall that the Oscar-nominated actress had her own talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, from 1999 to 2001. What has she learned from that experience?
“That was a long time ago, over 10 years ago. I’ve changed tremendously. I enjoyed the first show, but there was a lot I wanted to do in terms of acting and producing. I’ve been able to satisfy that itch. Now I can make a show that’s much more what I want it to be,” she says. “The first show – the idea of it was what I wanted but what it became wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. It got a little too heavy, a little too serious. It started to feel like it wasn’t as me as it should be.”
This time, the only topic that’s absolutely off-limits to her is that staple of tawdry confessionals: the paternity DNA test reveal.
“If that’s where you’re going, you might as well save me some time, and you some time. But other than that, I’m not really shying away from anything. It’s my show. There’s nothing really new here to me,” she says. “If there’s something that comes up that I don’t want to talk about, I don’t talk about it. It’s that simple. No one is forcing me to talk about anything I don’t want to talk about. It’s about having fun with humor and heart. It’s not about Dana’s private life. It’s not Queen Latifah’s private life. It’s Dana’s private life. That’s not what the show is about.”
Monday’s show will feature a performance by preteen actress-singer Willow Smith, with dad Will Smith dropping in Tuesday. If the schedule seems a tad Smith family heavy, it’s with good reason: Latifah and Smith go way back, and he and wife Jada Pinkett Smith are among the producers of Latifah’s new venture.
Lenny Kravitz is responsible for the set design of the show. It was actually Jada Pinkett Smith who floated the idea of tapping Kravitz after seeing two luxury penthouses he designed at the SLS Hotel South Beach. While his design inspirations include Frank Lloyd Wright, Karl Springer and Zaha Hadid, he took his cues from Latifah in decorating her set. “Latifah is soulful, elegant, sophisticated yet still street. She’s a woman for all seasons,” says Kravitz. A dramatic staircase dominates the modern set with its neutral tones and bold lines on the Sony lot in Culver City. The central interview area is flanked by a DJ booth and a more intimate interview area. Latifah has dubbed the space “the Michelle Obama room” in an aspirational nod to a highly desired guest. “We didn’t want something too new so that it would be outside of what would be relatable for the audience,” says Pinkett Smith.