Oprah, Ellen, ET Start New Season in HD

A significant handful of the most popular syndicated daily programs in broadcast television began their new season this week (Sept. 8) with new shows, new guests and lavish new sets geared to the HD era. "Oprah" and "Ellen," who compete head-to-head in some markets, welcomed HD Monday in spectacular fashion with Ellen DeGeneres featuring the Jonas Brothers in a taped outdoor concert on the lot of Warner Bros. in Hollywood, and Oprah Winfrey showcasing no fewer than 175 American Olympic athletes on-stage en masse.

Meanwhile, Hollywood magazines "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider" made their HD debuts Monday from newly configured CBS digital facilities in Culver City, Calif. Both shows are basically using the same HD equipment and control room, thanks to two new sets built adjacent to each other. ("ET" was not seen in parts of the Eastern and Central time zones Monday night because of tennis coverage by CBS Sports that spilled into ET's typical time slot, 7:30 p.m. in the East.)

"Dr. Phil" also was scheduled to go HD on Sept. 8, although like the "Ellen" and "Oprah" Web sites, there appeared to be virtually no mention of the format shift, although all three shows announced their transition plans months ago. (A "Dr. Phil" spokesman did not immediately respond to inquiries.)

The move to 1080i or 720p by the daily programs does not mean they are now available everywhere in HD; a lot of local stations are not yet able to pass-through syndicated fare in HD.