These Are the Stars in the Running to Take Over Ellen DeGeneres' Daytime Throne

We've got a full year before Ellen DeGeneres hangs up her dancin' sneaks. But it's never too early to talk about who we want to see chatting up the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Mila Kunis next fall.

By Sarah Grossbart May 31, 2021 10:00 AMTags

Truth be told, we're not fully ready to accept a new dance partner. 

Ellen DeGeneres' May 12 announcement that she will be hanging up her sneaks in 2022 is still pretty fresh. And the veteran daytime host—who's helmed her namesake show since 2003—promises we're in for one hell of a finale. "Every day will be a celebration," she vowed of season 19, premiering this fall. "There will be a lot of surprises. There will be trips down memory lane. We still have a lot of celebrating to do this season."

But once she takes that final bow next spring we're going to have an opening on our metaphorical dance cards and television networks will have a gaping hole in their afternoon lineups. So while it's unlikely anyone new will be filling DeGeneres' white armchair—it's called The Ellen DeGeneres Show, after all—someone (realistically, many someones) is certain to take a stab at daytime talk show dominance. 

Ellen DeGeneres' Celebrity Supporters and Detractors

Within hours of DeGeneres' announcement, #ReplacementsForEllen began trending on Twitter, with everyone from Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon to Betty White to Miss Piggy getting a vote. (That last one may have been said in jest, but, like, we don't hate it?) 

"There are celebrities out there who have said to themselves, 'You know, I'd like to do a talk show one day,' but have never gone there because they do their other things," Mort Marcus, co-president of television syndication company Debmar-Mercury, recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "Their agents are likely calling them now, saying, 'You still want to do that talk show? It might be a good time to have that conversation.'"

Which means it's definitely a good time for us to talk about who we (and every other fan of daytime TV) would like to see peppering our favorite celebrities with the questions only a true Hollywood insider can get away with asking. And, no, we didn't include Oprah Winfrey. She's got a pretty sweet gig helming her own television network and getting Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to spill all of that royal tea

Kelly Clarkson

Already two seasons into helming her namesake daytime show, the OG American Idol does seem like the obvious choice to claim Ellen DeGeneres' abandoned crown. Particularly now that NBC has announced The Kelly Clarkson Show will fill DeGeneres' old time slot come 2022. And, actually, Swoon Talent founder Donna Benner would argue that last year's Daytime Emmy winner for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host has been wearing it for a minute.

"I think Kelly Clarkson already surpassed Ellen and she is already the next Ellen," the three-time Daytime Emmy-winning talk show producer opined to E! News. "When Oprah [Winfrey] left, it was, 'Who's going to be the next Oprah?' And it was clearly Ellen. And then it became Kelly."

So, perhaps Clarkson has just been waiting for a moment like this? 

Tiffany Haddish

She ready. With the public eager to anoint the Girls Trip standout—currently in her second season of hosting Kids Say the Darndest Things—she revealed during a May 19 appearance on The Breakfast Club that she'd certainly consider it "if I could get what Ellen getting."

But for now, insisted the comic while she was promoting her and Billy Crystal's new comedy Here Today, her fill-in work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show is purely a contract gig. "I haven't commented on it because ain't nobody that give those jobs talk to me about it," she joked. "The reason I've even been popping up guest-hosting Ellen is because she wanted some days off."

It's been fun mastering a new skill, she continued, but, "I don't know if that's grooming me to take over because ain't nobody talk to me about that. Ain't nobody said nothing to me about that."

Drew Barrymore

Another major star testing the talk show waters, the actress launched her series this past fall. And her recent Daytime Emmy nods prove the Flower Films cofounder is fully in bloom. 

Her freshman season of The Drew Barrymore Show saw her reunite with her Charlie's Angels crew Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, Never Been Kissed costar Jessica Alba and even ex-husband Tom Green. Plus, she's made it clear she has no interest in taking on an acting job anytime soon. "I think if the executives stick with her she has a shot," said talk show vet Benner. "I think she succeeded season one, which is a great thing. I think people love her and her movies."

Tamron Hall

In a landscape that gobbled up the likes of Katie Couric (Katie lasted just two seasons), Anderson Cooper (Anderson Live signed off after two as well) and Meredith Vieira (The Meredith Vieira Show, also two seasons), the NBC News and Today veteran might just be the broadcast journalist to break through. "They all failed, which was shocking to me because I thought they were all fantastic," surmised Benner. "Years went by, and then Tamron Hall popped up—a success. She had the 'it' factor." Not to mention a Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host for her first season.

Two years into her self-titled series (recently nominated for two more Daytime Emmys), the Tamron Hall host is challenging norms in all the right ways, Benner speculated. "I remember being in discussions about the image and what your host should be wearing—it's inappropriate to wear jeans or she has to look like a newscaster-type person or the guy has to be in the business suit," recalled the producer, who's worked on The Maury Povich Show, Sally and Ricki Lake. "But Tamron Hall was feathers on TV, like she wears nighttime wear during the day. And it's not just about the clothes, it's about breaking the rules. And she did it so, so well."


DeGeneres' departure creates an opening for a fresh face to make their talk TV debut. And Benner thinks Lizzo is 100 percent that b--ch. After watching her on an October episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, "I said, 'She needs her own talk show,'" Benner recalled of seeing the multi-talented singer-songwriter-flautist in action. "She is absolutely phenomenal. She is my pick. I think she's smart, I think she's strong as a personality. I think she's self-made and she has a backstory of fighting to get there and waiting a long time for success, so she's very much on the level of her viewers, offering inspiration."

What's more, the three-time Grammy winner is as aspirational as she is inspirational. "She also is a woman with a lot of taste," Benner continued. "She lives in a beautiful home, mid-century, every room is so interesting. She also loves to cook and she has these cooking videos on YouTube."

How we feelin' about Lizzo on our TV screens every day? Feeling good as hell. 

Miley Cyrus

"This may not be how Ellen does it," the singer said while lightening up our quarantine with her Instagram Live series, Bright Minded: Live with Miley, "but it's how I do it." And, tbh, we're here for the People's Choice Award winner just being Miley, whether that means gushing about her friendship with Demi Lovato or going deep into the topic of religion with Hailey Bieber

Still, while Benner said, "I really love her for so many reasons—I love her music, I love everything that she's been through," she cautioned that the 28-year-old may not garner the same success with daytime's older audience. "You can host your own mobile talk show, but it's very different coming into people's homes," she explained. "Will they accept you? I don't think she's the right choice, but I do love her."

Ali Wong

The Always Be My Maybe star is a strong possibility for Benner. "I love her," she raved of the comedian, who riffed on everything from her sex life to a previous miscarriage ("Because I made the mistake of telling people as soon as I got pregnant, I then had to tell them the bad news and then I felt like I was burdening them," she told the Guardian. "So being able to joke about it was such a relief") in her Netflix stand-up shows Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife

The way Benner sees it, Wong—who filmed both of her hit specials while pregnant—is the total package: "A mom, hysterical, raw and real." Plus she just wrapped work on her ABC sitcom American Housewife, so...

James Corden

Okay, he's sorta busy with his other job and, you know, hanging out with our favorite Friends, so this may be a moo point. (You know, like a cow's opinion.) But The Late Late Show with James Corden host keeps popping up as an option despite having shot the idea down last year when viewers assumed DeGeneres would step down amid allegations the show was a "toxic work environment." (Not accused of wrongdoing herself, DeGeneres vowed to make improvements.) 

"Genuinely, I have no idea where that even came from," Corden insisted one a September Late Late Show episode. "I think somebody started a rumor somewhere and someone jumped on the thing. There is absolutely no truth in that story at all. Zero." 

Even if there had been a real offer, he wasn't about to entertain it. "I think it would be a really crazy thing to take over from someone who I think has done the job so outrageously well for, like, 18 years," he continued. "And I think when the day comes to end this show, [it] will be the day to probably stop hosting a show every day."

Kate McKinnon

The comedic powerhouse is a favorite amongst the Twitter experts. And with rumors circulating that she just finished her 10th and final season of Saturday Night Live, might we suggest a new gig? Live from this couch, it's Kate McKinnon!

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