*Queen Latifah and her new boss Jada Pinkett Smith co-hosted a Q&A session for TV critics Wednesday on the set of her upcoming “The Queen Latifah Show.”
Things kicked off with Latifah performing a surprise song and dance number – changing the lyrics of “When You’re Good to Mama,” her signature song from “Chicago,” to address the assembled journalists of the Television Critics Association.
Got a little motto, always sees me through.
When you’re good to ‘Tifah, ‘Tifah’s good to you.
Welcome TV critics, I brought you to my stage,
Because you’re my favorite demo…hot, smart and middle aged.
She had background dancers and everything.
Before the number, a sizzle reel played that showed Latifah sky diving, speaking with military wives and surprising elementary school students with Alicia Keys in various field pieces that will air on the show.
Latifah and her executive producers Pinkett Smith and Corin Nelson took questions while seated on the sofa of her spacious set — a cozy space nestled inside of Sony Studios in Culver City. The color scheme includes warm browns, tans and brick reds, accented with mahogany wood and African decor.
Latifah started off by assuring folks that just because “queen” is in her name, she’s not trying to replace the queen.
“People have often asked me do I want to be the next Oprah. There is no such thing. Oprah is Oprah,” she said. “And she’s still being Oprah if anyone hadn’t noticed. Obviously there are great things she accomplished and I would love to be able to accomplish some of those things. But what I bring to television is me. I’m Queen Latifah. I had a different life story and different path that I’ve traveled.”
Pinkett Smith, who co-produces along with her husband Will Smith under their Overbrook Entertainment shingle, says her good friend and “Set it Off” co-star has a universal appeal tailor made for daytime TV.
“As you can see she’s very funny, she’s very witty, she’s very intelligent and she has a lot of heart,” Smith said. “I think what we’re missing [in daytime] today is heart. So Latifah, to me, when we did the research on her – across the board from [age] 3 to 80, people love her; women, men, kids.”
As for the show’s daily format, Nelson said it will be a multi-topic, talk/variety show recorded live to tape and involving everything from A-list celebrities to music and games, with “real incredible storytelling and real people.”
“We’ll have incredible field pieces with real great story telling and surprises that these people are not expecting that are kind of life changing, but also that we really hope the viewers can connect to,” said Nelson.
Although Latifah stressed she has an opinion on things, the producers are looking to keep show topics happy and uplifting, straying into politics only to accommodate a presidential candidate – or perhaps a sitting president. “I’ve already invited the president and the missus, by the way, when I was at the White House a month and a half ago.”
After the Q&A session, Latifah shared with us her biggest fear going into hosting her own talk show.
“The Queen Latifah Show” premieres Sept. 16 in syndication. Click here to find out where it airs in your area. Watch a promo below.