A new black Hugo Boss suit waits along with Jason Matheson’s “lucky tie” for 10 a.m. Monday when the “Jason Show” makes its debut on FOX 9.
The childhood dream of his own TV show, which began on a rock in Indiana when he was 8, comes to fruition after a Twin Cities career path that went like this: WCCO-TV, Fox 9, MyTalk107.1 FM, WCCO-TV and Fox 9.
The “Jason Show” doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen on TV, if the run-through I glimpsed this week is typical. A natural entertainer, Jason needs fewer celebrity interviews to keep things interesting. And celebrities had better come prepared to play with Jason and his live studio audience. Jason has taken bits and pieces from all his favorite talk shows present and past. Some of you should Google Dinah Shore right now.
I interviewed him on his sleek set with the new studio smell last week. You won’t see the studio in my startribune.com/video because he wants to make a big reveal Monday.
The first guest who’ll “cook” and sass Jason also is a secret. I wonder if it’s going to be his new spouse. I wonder who is going to do these people-on-the-street interviews that have been playing around in my head, where I have been the person doing those interviews.
Q: You’re starting to look a little nervous to me, for the first time.
A: I shouldn’t. Oh, no. We just did our first rehearsal today. I’m tired. You caught me at the tail end. I’m in bed usually at this point. As I look at the studio — which I wish we could show you but we can’t — it’s a little surreal.
Q: How long has this been your dream?
A: Oh, my whole life.
Q: You were 5 and dreaming of having a TV show?
A: Yeah. My grandma and grandpa lived in a really small house in the country. They had this rock in their front yard. I used to stand on that rock and do little shows. My grandparents, I don’t have them anymore, but that rock is still there. We went back there a couple years ago, I took a picture of it. We’re going to show it on the first show. I can remember standing up there, right as we’re going to see “ET,” so that would have been 1982. I would have been 8. So as far back as I can remember, yeah. I acted like I had an audience, raccoons and things, whatever is out in the country. And I would talk to the raccoons and do a little show. Then I started getting more obsessed with Johnny Carson. I loved Joan Rivers and then David Letterman. Then I used to force my neighbor kids to be the audience and I would do little talk shows.
Q: Hostage situation!
A: Seriously. The parents did not want their kids playing with me. Normal kids would be playing basketball and stuff and they would say, We’re going to go play with Jason. Well, what are you going to play? Talk show. A little weird.
Q: Is Katie Couric going to be flown in to be your first guest?
A: No. There are a lot of throwbacks. We’ve taken pieces of all my favorite shows. Dinah Shore “In the Kitchen with Dinah,” I don’t have a co-host like the radio show with Lex [MyTalk107.1FM’s Alexis Thompson]. What we have every day is someone in the kitchen and they’ll be the one to play with me that day. So we’re not so reliant on guests like a normal talk show but there will always be a guest, a Dinah Shore guest, that we’ll reveal. And the first guest is very personal. It makes perfect sense. I sent Katie a tweet and a direct message on Twitter. Nothing. I heard nothing. One day I got a message and it just said Hi and I thought, “Ohhh, she’s going to respond.” Nothing. I just got a Hi. So I sent the message again, saying, “I would do anything if you could just call in, you know I love you.” Chirp, chirp, chirp [as in cricket silence]. I think she’s busy. She’s married now. She heard that I got married, I think. I think our [broadcast] marriage has been annulled. But I miss her. I love Katie, so much. I think she thinks I’m like a stalker at this point. That’s all right. So no Katie. James Denton, yes! I love you buddy. James Denton is going to come on, a favorite of ours, right after September. He’s in Canada filming his Hallmark series. I wanted him to be our first guest. That’ll happen later.
Q: There’s a live studio audience and its members won’t be silent partners?
A: We’ve never done a show like this here at the F-O-X 9. The thought of an audience … There are a lot of things that come with that. I kept telling Mimmy [Mim Davey, our news director,] and Sheila [Oliver], our GM, I really believe in this. It adds a different energy. The energy is different when there are people to react to. Andy Cohen, as I mentioned we are taking little bits of everyone’s show, has a small studio audience. We play games everyday. I’ve taken from Ellen and Fallon. Mandy [Tadych], the EP over there [at KSTP-TV’s] “Twin Cities Live,” has been so supportive. She said, The more local programming the better for all of us. I think that’s true and Fox has been very supportive of that, too. The trend is going back to local programming, compared to the ’80s and ’90s it was all about syndicated shows, like “Oprah” and “Judge Judy” and stuff like that.
Q: Do you think your show will be syndicated?
A: That would be really arrogant to say. I just hope seven people watch. I can’t even think that big. I have a very realistic view of this. If it works, great. Because it is very different. It’s not [slick voice over guy voice] Here are some skin care tips … Here’s how to save on lettuce. That’s not our show. Our show goes goofy, funny, strange, some heart elements, we have some tender things but syndication, I can’t even think about that.
Q: So you have thought about failure is what you’re telling me?
A: Like when the “Buzz” started. I always prepare; I thought, “OK, if they accept me in this role for a month, I’ll be happy.” And when they put me anchoring the news here at Fox. “Are they going to accept me? OK, they did. I’m getting away with this.” And the radio show, which has been such a big blessing. The ratings are good for that. That’s great. This … when your name is on it you can’t really hide. Because my big melon, I wish I could show you, but my big melon is all over the set. If the damn thing fails I can’t blame [meteorologist & “Buzz” co-host] Keith Marler.
Q: We could try, though.
A: I could try! If it is canceled I’m blaming Keith. I hope people will embrace it. Forget me -- the producers eff [Orcutt, EP] and Shayne [Stroud, producer] and Eric [Sturm, photo journalist/editor] -- have made the show really pretty. It’s not like Zac Efron, but we set a high standard for how we want the show to look. I hope people will like it. I’m aiming for success.
Q: Your melon graphic does not have a mouth, however? People are going to LOVE that.
A: I know, because I read your comments! Oh, I love the Internet Monsters. [Gruff guy voice] Why the hell did he get a show? Why did he come back to Fox? Fox was great without him. Thank God, he left ’CCO. You’ve got to take all that stuff. Anyway, so my logo doesn’t have a mouth. That’s the dream come true for most people in the Twin Cities and my parents.
Q: You’ve already admitted to thinking the first show will be very emotional, so here’s my giant prop hankie.
A: I thought this was a granny panties. It’s a hankie it’s also a crab bib. I probably will cry. My mom’s going to be at the very end of the show. She can’t be here in the studio audience. We’re gong to Skype her in with her white zinfandel with ice cubes. [Deep sigh.] My mother drives me crazy. First because she only drinks white zinfandel. I got her to drink pinot grigio one time and you would have thought it was acid.
Q: There’s a rumor in just like in the sports world, about which you don’t know very much, that I’ve been traded from the “Buzz” to your show?
A: [Laughter followed by a dour] Yeah, you have. There were negotiations … our director Leo [Hofmeister], who is thrilled to be working on the show, just walked in.
Q: Another hostage situation?
A: I know. Leo got traded to our show, too [from “On The Fly”], and oh God, is he thrilled. Refugees from the “Buzz,” they are fleeing their homeland. No Leo’s been great, one of the best director’s we’ve had. Our temperaments are very different. I can get on Leo’s nerves really quickly. Really quickly. But he’s been great and so supportive. But, yeah C.J. you’ve been traded. You didn’t know you were a free agent? We’re excited. We want to try some new things with you. You’re going to have fun. I told Jeff on the “Buzz” you’re taped; I’m talking about you in the third person and you’re standing right in front of me.
Q: What have you learned about Collin that you didn’t know before you married him?
A: Oh God. That he deserves a medal. Let me tell you. That man, if he ever leaves his current job he’s going to do humanitarian work for the U.N. because …
Q: He already started at home.
A: He’s done humanitarian work with me. I don’t care what I do. No matter how bad of a mood I’m in; there have been some long days and this is a process; when I left the other station and came here. He’s so patient and so supportive.
Q: We already know you’re spoiled rotten.
A: I heard Bette Midler interviewed and say, You don’t always get to do what you want. I’ve really learned that and I’ve also learned that I can’t always be alone. I’m talking to my only-child friends out there. I love my alone time and I need it. … But I’ve learned I really have to compromise. I’m getting better at it. I really am. I try everyday. But it’s fun. It’s a blast. Look. There’s no one else I would rather spend time with, so.
Q: Which city in the metro would be the best location for Southfork, when you build it?
A: I love my in-laws. I would rather have drinks with my mother-in-law than a lot of people and that’s my girl. My father in law would/wouldn’t love this, but if I could build Southfork really close in Andover, so we could go have drinks with Lori Haas whenever I wanted. We are looking at Andover or Shakopee. We need a specific lot because of the shape of the house. I’m either waiting until that lot is available or if anyone is watching [reading] and would like to will me your land, that would be very nice of you.
Q: How many acres do you need?
A: We need at least three acres. The house needs to sit back from the road. So again, if you are watching C.J’s video and you have some land that you would like to either will to me or sell to me for a very, very economical price … please call me. [Serious voice over guy voice.]
Q: Have you ever taken a shirtless selfie?
A: NEV-er. Ever. Even at my thinnest, I wouldn’t. No. I leave that to other people in this market. Debbie Allen, choreographer from “Fame,” was on Oprah once and she said, Everybody should look in the mirror naked, once a week. I haven’t done that since the mid-90s. So, no.
Q: One more thing I have to chew you out about from a few years ago. I called because I heard there was a blow up between you and the Mensa member of the “Lori & Julia Show.” [He laughed big.] You didn’t return my phone call. Then a couple weeks ago you go on that show and tell the story?
A: OK, is this going to be in print or the video?
Q: I don’t know.
A: I filled in for Lori & Julia for the first time ever and I used their show to make fun of Julia. When that fight started I was being über protective of Lex. If you are mean to Lex it’s like being mean to Bambi. So Julia snapped at Alexis because we were using producer Donny for a segment in our show and I went up to Julia and she started to yell at me and I told her, famously, “I don’t work for you, woman. I can do what I want. I looked and Donny doesn’t have a cattle prod with [your] little face, the Julia Ranch. This is not your show. This is our show and if I want to put Donny Love in the show, I don’t need to ask your permission. … Ever since then it’s been perfect. I want to be clear. We’re all good.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try email@example.com and to see her tortured on TV check out the “Jason Show,” before she figures out how to return to the “Buzz.”