It started with Arsenio, disappeared for a few years and now seems to be back with a vengeance.

The late night "urban" talk show is hot again, and television studios are clamoring over big-name contenders. At last count, Magic Johnson, Keenan Ivory Wayans and former Detroit Piston John Salley are all attached as hosts of syndicated projects, with Quincy Jones set as producer of the Chris Spencer-hosted Vibe.

Industry observers predict that only the strong will survive the ratings race, and suggest that only one show may remain after the "urban" dust clears.

First out will be The Keenen Wayans Show, debuting in August on Fox Broadcasting's 22 television stations, it was announced today. Wayans will have the advantage of name identification with the Fox audience, since the comedian/host has already had a hit show, In Living Color, on the network.

Wayans' new show will go head-to-head against Vibe, based on the Time Warner hip-hop magazine of the same name. The show is set to debut on Chris-Craft stations either this summer or fall.

The fates of Salley's and Johnson's proposed shows, meanwhile, are becoming murkier. Salley's show now looks unlikely, since developer Buena Vista TV is now prepping Wayans.

And Johnson's January Fox debut wasn't quite soon enough for the network, which picked Wayans' show to fill an 11 p.m. time slot this fall. While Johnson's show is still slated to air on the network, it's possible Johnson may get nudged out altogether.

Some sources, however, are predicting back-to-back Wayans and Johnson shows on Fox if both prove successful.

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