Daytime next stop for Pauley

— Jane Pauley's life away from television didn't last long.

Less than a month after leaving as host of "Dateline NBC," Pauley agreed Thursday to launch a daytime talk show for NBC Enterprises. She has also signed a contract with Random House to write two books.

The talk show, set to begin in fall 2004, will likely put Pauley in direct competition with daytime queen Oprah Winfrey in many markets.

"All I can say is, if I can tape her, everyone else can," Pauley said.

The 52-year-old Pauley, who spent 14 years as "Today" show co-host, was careful not to use the word "retirement" when she announced last winter that she was leaving NBC News. She said she had entrepreneurial instincts and several ideas.

Pauley agreed to a meeting in April with NBC's syndication arm as a courtesy, saying she had "not a glimmer of interest" in a talk show. But she realized many of the ideas she had been thinking about would work in that setting.

"I didn't need to have a piecemeal future if I accepted an offer to do something bigger than I expected," she said.

She anticipates covering traditional daytime TV topics that would interest women around her age. The show will be taped before a live audience at NBC's Rockefeller Center studios in midtown Manhattan.

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