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Star Jones Reynolds will host new show on Court TV

Gail Shister
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

After eight months out of the spotlight, Star is a star again.

"I'm so happy. I'm thrilled. This is a perfect situation," Star Jones Reynolds gushed in an interview Wednesday. "I'm returning to my roots."

Reynolds, who began her broadcast career at Court TV in 1991 as a legal commentator, will host a new daytime show on the cable network, it was announced Wednesday. The live, hour-long weekday program will launch later this year, most likely in early fall.

No title yet. (How about "Don't Expect Any Free Stuff Because I Want it All?")

A charter co-host on Barbara Walters' ABC female chatfest, "The View," since 1997, the shamelessly self-promoting Reynolds went down swinging in June.

Having been told that her contract wouldn't be renewed, she blindsided Walters by announcing her departure on the air. A furious Walters banned her from the show. With prejudice.

Never mess with Miss Barbara. Reynolds' name was immediately removed from the opening credits, and when "The View" went into summer reruns, the programs aired were carefully chosen - days when Reynolds was not on the panel.

Known for having an absolute opinion about absolutely everything, Reynolds has nothing bad to say about "The View." (Color us disappointed.) She wants to look ahead, she says. Her new show will focus on criminal-justice issues and their intersection with politics, entertainment and pop culture.

"My perspective will be as an advocate of the viewer," says Jones, 44, a former prosecutor in Brooklyn. "When I was a D.A., I'd walk into the courtroom and announce, `Star Jones on behalf of the people of the state of New York.'

"I took that responsibility so seriously. For me, the law is not to be joked with. You have to be sure you're giving people the truth when it comes to the law."

Reynolds promises she won't talk like a lawyer. "The show will be user-friendly. I'm not going to impress you with my ability to use all the words I would use to impress an appellate judge. I want to get you to love the law as much as I do."

No studio audience, but there will be guests. Including celebs "who may have hit a legal bump in the road," she says.

Reynolds knows from bumps.

ABC called her on the carpet in fall 2004 for giving free plugs on "The View" to companies in exchange for "sponsoring" her forthcoming wedding to banker Al Reynolds.

More than 30 corporate sponsors "donated" attire and merchandise for the luxe New York event, an understated affair with 500 guests, three matrons of honor and three best men, 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen, six footmen (footmen?), four ring bearers and four flower girls.

Though she dropped a truckload of pounds seemingly overnight in 2005, Reynolds repeatedly denied she had undergone gastric bypass surgery. Rosie O'Donnell, hired to replace Meredith Vieira as moderator of "The View," criticized Reynolds for not acknowledging the surgery.

Want more? Reynolds is often caricatured - hilariously - by Kenan Thompson on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." (Prior to that, Tracy Morgan had Star-lampooning duty on "SNL.")

Reynolds began at Court TV in 1991 as a commentator during the William Kennedy Smith rape trial. After several years at NBC as a legal correspondent, she left in 1994 to host a short-lived syndicated show, "Jones & Jury." In 1995, she joined "Inside Edition" as senior correspondent and chief legal analyst. Two years later came "The View."

Reynolds has written two books, most recently, "Shine: A Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love," in January 2006.

She'll pop up in prime time May 22 on the season finale of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Playing herself, she'll be seen as a TV legal commentator.

Ditto for "CNN Headline News'" Nancy Grace. (Now there's a pay-per-view steel cage match in the making ...)

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