By Stephen M. Silverman
April 12, 2002 10:00 AM

Ellen DeGeneres plans to follow in Rosie O’Donnell’s footsteps — with Rosie’s distributor, no less. Variety reports that the comedian, 44, has signed to host an hour-long, daytime TV talk show for syndication starting in the fall of 2003. One stipulation of the contract, says the trade paper, is that DeGeneres’s latest sitcom, which had a bumpy run on CBS, will stay off the air, so as not to compete for her time. The new DeGeneres show would be produced by Telepictures, which also produces the “Rosie O’Donnell Show,” and would be distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television. (Warners TV, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.) The show would be based in Los Angeles and, says Variety, would make great use of DeGeneres’s stand-up comedy ability. (She had an impressive turn as the host of last fall’s Emmy awards ceremony.) Telepictures President Jim Paratore told Variety that his company has long been interested in signing the comic to such a show. “Ellen’s name came up when she did some guest work on Rosie’s show. She was natural and funny,” Paratore said. “It was something we were thinking about, and something she was thinking about independently.” CBS’s ratings-challenged “The Ellen Show” starred DeGeneres as a former dot-com executive who returns to her small-town home. CBS yanked the show earlier this year, at which time is said that it might return this fall. A final announcement regarding the sitcom’s future is due in mid-May.