SPEND AN hour or so with Bonnie Hunt these days and you come away convinced she's got a daytime talk show inside her head.
The only question now is whether she and her producers can extract and polish that vision within the next three weeks, when "The Bonnie Hunt Show" comes to KNBC-TV Channel 4 and other TV stations nationwide. This is not shaping up to be -- how can we put this? -- another strenuously overproduced TV yakfest. Hunt, the 46-year-old Chicago-born comedian best known for ABC's short-lived sitcom "Life With Bonnie" as well as her work on the family-oriented "Beethoven" and "Cheaper by the Dozen" pictures, is an improv performer by background and inclination. She likes working without a net. It's a style that can yield unexpected triumphs. Or things that go splat.
"Some of the producers say to me, 'We haven't had such a vague outline before,' " Hunt told me last week during a chat in her office at Culver Studios. "And I say, 'It's OK. Let's see what happens.' "
Here's the rundown so far: Hunt will open with a monologue about current events, her life or even what's happening behind the scenes at the show (she doesn't do stand-up, so don't look for jokes). There will be guests, of course. A five-piece house band will provide music. As time goes by she'd like to throw in improv, sketches, that sort of thing. And tons of audience interaction.
"I'll be out in the audience a lot," she said. "I love talking to people and finding out their opinion."