‘The Jennifer Hudson Show’ review: All personality, not enough personality

in the first episode of jennifer hudsonOf the new talk show, guest Simon Cowell was too mildly critical of the series “American Idol”, on which he was a judge and Hudson was a contestant. Commenting on how he found the producers’ assignment to sing a Barry Manilow song (which he did that week when he was sent home) inappropriate and outdated with him, Cowell generated the first glimpse of real heat on the episode. There was something here, perhaps, with the frisson and excitement of real conversation. Hudson let it sit there, allowing a few moments of silence before remarking “Simon being Simon”, then backing away.

The first episode began with a run-through of Hudson’s career accomplishments: from the grief of her “Idol” elimination during Barry Manilow Week to her casting in “Dreamgirls”, for which she was credited for her successful recording career. An acting would win an Oscar. Hudson has won all four major entertainment awards—an EGOT, which speaks to the somewhat mythical place he occupies in the celebrity landscape: the recipient of a second-chance whose impeccably ostentatious voice isn’t constrained by the pitfalls of a reality-show. Might be possible.

However, at the end of the first week of her new talk show, it seems clear that Hudson’s fame and her personality as a somewhat oblivious old-school songwriter are incompatible with the daytime format. He’s an infinitely talented performer who, while monologueing for audiences or interacting with guests, apparently finds himself holding something back.

The format here should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the long search for a successor to Ellen DeGeneres as Queen of the Day: In fact, “jennifer hudson showProduced by Mary Connelly, Andy Lesnar and Corey Palette of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and Warner Bros., DeGeneres’ longtime home production. The show includes gentler-to-the-point-of-the-imperceptible celebrity interviews, as well as human-interest segments. In one, Hudson visits a convenience-store chain to reward his customers with large checks, reiterating the chain’s brand name with a kind of stunned display of humility that his public would recognize. Is. In another, a bridal party goes to the Minus One Bridesmaid set, and they are pleasantly surprised when Hudson reveals that she flew the remaining bridesmaids out of Arizona. It seems like a good day for the group, but it’s hard to understand why it made air; Even the bride-to-be seems more sociable and buoyant than she is blown away, though she dutifully lists each wedding attendant’s name when Hudson asks her.

Hudson is a star that’s hard to miss, and the segment in which she sings begins to explain why it’s true: Her shockingly powerful voice sets her apart. But the simple fact is that we know very little about Hudson. And that’s by design: She doesn’t seek the press and, even in this show, is tactical and controlling what she lets us see. His sister Julia appeared in front of the audience in the first episode of “Jennifer”; In the two subsequent episodes, Hudson repeated that appearance in the same way, referring to his sister as the “original J-Hud”. Many times we’ve been told that Hudson chooses coffee mugs with mantras that will propel her through the day. (One reads “radiate positivity.”)

Not every talk show host needs to be Wendy Williams, the everything personality whose show went off the air last season amid a cloud of controversy. But there is, or should be, a middle way. (In fact, in her first episode of this week, Williams’ replacement, Sherri Shepherd, kept the conversation light but displayed her sharp comedic wit.) In an attempt to get Hudson talking to the class of prominent figures, Drew Barrymore did the whole thing. Has knocked it out by showcasing a commitment to a sensibility that’s just as offbeat as it is family-friendly. And Hudson’s fellow “Idol” alum Kelly Clarkson is, in her interviews, a true enthusiast whose passion comes from a place of full attention to her favorites.

Hudson, in contrast, lacks a certain tempo in interviews; Guests often conduct conversations more than usual, while Hudson praises them for being sharp or witty without following up with questions. For example, his interactions with “Ted Lasso” artist Hannah Waddingham are entirely driven by Waddingham; A host’s role in moments like this is, in part, to understand what it’s like to talk to a guest, and yet Hudson is giving little to explain it.

Daytime thrives on relativity, which is why it’s strange that so many megastars have been trying it out lately; Those who have been successful did so by giving genuine thought to what specific aspects of their stories they wanted to put forward. While “The Jennifer Hudson Show” is ambiguous, clear not only about politics or Hudson’s innermost personal life, which would be totally expected, but also any tension or interest. It takes it as a starting point that audiences will be naturally interested by Hudson on his screen, forgetting that fame is only a starting point for talk-show personalities. Historically, the host made famous in return for what the audience gave us. Entering the Hudson Arena requires very few things from its audience: Positivity is a wonderful thing to radiate, but we need something more for an hour every day.

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