‘Forgive Or Forget’ And Other Television Talk Shows We Miss

April 24, 2013  |  
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With a new batch of television talk show hosts set to grace the boob tube this year — shout out to Queen Latifah — we can’t help but long for these old-time fav shows of yesteryear from time to time.

The Richard Bey Show

Before there was the “Jerry Springer Show” we had Richard Bey. For nine seasons, “The Richard Bey Show,” (known in the early days as “9 Broadcast Plaza”) entertained its audience with raunchy, slapstick segments such as the “Miss Big Butt” contest, the “Mr. Puniverse” contest, “Dysfunctional Family Feud” and “Blacks who think O.J. is guilty vs. Whites who think he is innocent.” Despite its success and huge ratings, “The Richard Bey Show” was canceled in December 1996 after a nine-year run.

The Jenny Jones Show

This was one of the most popular tabloid talk shows of the 90’s. Originally seeking out to be a serious, hard-hitting talk show like “Oprah,” the show was retooled after a few seasons due to low ratings and became known more for outlandish topics such as paternity tests, out-of-control teens, feuding neighbors, and talent show competitions. Host Jenny Jones would routinely feature musical guests on her show, with Usher, Ludacris, Nelly and Three 6 Mafia all making their national television debuts here. Guest Jonathan Schmitz famously murdered his male neighbor when he revealed he had a crush on Schmitz on an episode titled “Same Sex Secret Crushes.” The show was canceled in 2003 due to low ratings.


In 1994, Rolonda Watts was tapped to host a new daytime talk show to replace the low-rated “Les Brown Show.” For three years Watts hosted “Rolonda,” but she struggled to find her footing in a sea of other talk shows at the time. At the start of its run, “Rolonda” seeked to help guests who had problems with each other but over time recurring topics on the show included out-of-control teens and paternity tests. Rolonda would end up having trouble controlling her guests who began fighting during taping. The show was lambasted for ripping off the “Jerry Springer Show” and was canceled after three seasons.

The Sally Jessy Raphael Show

After bouncing around from station to station in the U.S. and Puerto Rico for years, news reporter and television host Sally Jessy Raphael finally found her calling by hosting her very own daytime talk show. For 19 seasons, “The Sally Jessy Raphael Show” was a beloved part of American tabloid television. Raphael frequently gave a voice to drag queens on her show, but it was eventually canceled in 2002 due to low ratings, which was becoming a common occurrence with other talk shows of the same genre at that time.

Ricki Lake

After a successful career in acting, Ricki Lake gave her hand at hosting her own afternoon talk show. “Ricki Lake” became an instant hit with teenagers, college students and urban viewers in the early 90’s. The show tackled such subjects as romantic relationships between guests, single parents who were accused of poor parenting, and family arguments. Often when a person onstage was less than forthcoming about something, Lake would have a surprise guest ring the doorbell and air his or her dirty laundry to the crowd and cameras. Although her guests frequently fought, Lake was quick to warn both the audience in attendance as well as those watching at home that, “Violence is not the answer.” “Ricki Lake” ended its 11-year run in 2004. In 2011, Lake tried to strike gold again with “The Ricki Lake Show” which was a tamer version of her original show but it was canceled after one season.

The Arsenio Hall Show

Comedian and actor Arsenio Hall was brought in to host Fox’s “The Late Show” for 13 weeks as they searched for a permanent replacement for Joan Rivers’ failed show. Hall became an instant success and after the 13-week run was over, Paramount Television inked a deal with Hall for his very own show. “The Arsenio Hall Show” debuted in January 1989 to great fanfare. For five years, Hall and the dog pound had the entire country waving and pumping their fists as they “woof, woof, woof-ed.” Famous guests included Hall’s friends Eddie Murphy and MC Hammer. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton famously played his saxophone on an episode, helping to seal his approval with minority and young voters. Paramount canceled Hall after five seasons. A revival of the show will debut in September 2013.

The Mo’Nique Show

Comedian and actress Mo’Nique made a name for herself as star of “The Parkers” before switching into the role as host of “Showtime at the Apollo.” In 2009, BET recruited the “Phat Girlz” star to host her own late night talk show. “The Mo’Nique Show” featured guests and musical performances each night. Despite solid ratings, the show lasted for just two seasons.


Talk show host queen Oprah Winfrey stepped off the stage and hung up the microphone after 25 seasons but not before “The Oprah Winfrey Show” became the highest rated television talk show in history. Winfrey got her start as host of the 30-minute “A.M. Chicago” in 1984 taking the show from last place to first in the ratings in just one month. Winfrey changed the name of the show, extended it by another 30 minutes, took it national and the rest is history. The show snagged 47 Daytime Emmys before Winfrey stopped submitting to it in 2000. Winfrey made her final curtain call on the talk show in 2011 to launch the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) where she hosts the weekly series “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”


Journalist/reporter turned talk show host Geraldo Rivera became the father of “trash TV” with “Geraldo.” The show garnered national attention during its second season when an episode featured white supremacists, anti-racist skinheads, black activists, and Jewish activists as guests. A full-blown brawl broke out which included several audience members. Rivera even got into the mix by throwing a couple punches at a white supremacist. The show lasted for 11 seasons before it was canceled after Rivera tried to switch over to a more serious talk show format.

Lopez Tonight

TBS network threw its hat into the late-night talk show ring with “Lopez Tonight,” a one-hour show hosted by comedian and actor George Lopez. “Lopez Tonight” followed the format of other late-night talk shows: monologue by the host, a comedy sketch, one or two interviews with a celebrity followed by a musical guest performance. Lopez famously gave rapper Nicki Minaj a booty protector after Regis Philbin groped her while on “Live With Regis and Kelly.” TBS canned “Lopez Tonight” after two seasons.

The Phil Donahue Show

Known as the man who invented smart talk in the afternoon, Phil Donahue turned a phone-in afternoon radio show in Dayton, OH, into a national treasure. For 26 years, “The Phil Donahue Show” laid the foundation for all other afternoon talk shows to follow, earning over 20 Daytime Emmy awards in the process. Donahue and his show was responsible for bringing hip-hop into the national spotlight in 1984 by having a break-dancing crew featured on his show, a first in television history. Oprah Winfrey paid homage to Donahue on one of the last episodes of her own talk show.

Teen Summit

For 13 seasons, teenagers across the country would run home after school each day to tune into BET’s “Teen Summit.” Ananda Lewis, DJ Cocoa Chanelle, Derrell ‘D-Knott’ Ross, and other hosts would tackle various issues concerning adolescents, including teen pregnancy, peer pressure, and gang violence. While other networks made half-hearted attempts, “Teen Summit” would uplift and motivate its teen viewers. In 2007, BET aired a special episode of “Teen Summit: Backstage Pass.”

Forgive or Forget

If someone wronged a loved one and was seeking forgiveness from the person they hurt, “Forgive or Forget” was the show to appear on. For two seasons, guests would beg and plead for a clean slate while the potential forgiver would stand behind closed doors. If all was forgiven, that person would step through the door. Actress Robin Givens took over hosting duties from Mother Love but the switch up wasn’t enough to save the show from poor ratings. Reruns can be currently seen on Bounce TV.


While Chicago had Oprah Winfrey, California had Leeza Gibbons, the host of “Leeza.” From 1993 to 2000, the show would cover many hard-hitting topics that gripped the country at that time including the Columbine High School shooting massacre, JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery, Oklahoma City bombing, O.J. Simpson murder trial and more. “Leeza” racked up almost 30 Daytime Emmy nominations along with a slew of other awards.

The Rosie O’Donnell Show

After a successful stand-up and film career, comedian Rosie O’Donnell snagged her very own daytime talk show. For six seasons, the Long Island native entertained the audience with jokes and interviewed various Hollywood stars and legends. Dubbed the “Queen of Nice,” O’Donnell routinely tossed koosh balls at the audience. She left the show to spend more time with her family. In 2011, O’Donnell inked a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network for a talk show that was supposed to help turn around the struggling network but it was canceled after just one season.

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