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TVWeek.com is putting its readers in the thick of the action at the National Association of Program Executives 2007 conference with the help of guest bloggers Ritch Colbert and Josh Raphaelson, principles at Program Partners. Mr. Colbert and Mr. Raphaelson, consummate insiders, will be prowling the floors and suites and sending their impressions via instant messages. Their company, Program Partners, distributes shows including “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” “Da Vinci’s Inquest” and “Cold Squad.”

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More from Tuesday at NATPE

January 16, 2007 4:58 PM

NATPE officially starts for us today, but the road to NATPE has been interesting. For us the conference kicked off unofficially on Sunday when a crowd of about 60 people filled our suite for an advance sneak pre-view of our new production from Merv Griffin, “Let’s Play Crosswords”. We had a majority of the major group broadcasters represented, and Merv held the crowd in the palm of his hand. We asked him to talk about his inspiration for the show and to introduce the presentation video. “Try and get me off,” he said. Before the crowd, his anecdotes ranged from Bugsy Siegel’s Las Vegas to his own ‘contretemps with Donald Trump’ (now there’s a series to compete with the bald-headed security guard from Jerry Springer). He described how for 15 years he has been mulling over the idea of a game show based on crossword puzzles, and how only through some recent, intensive development sessions had he figured out a dramatic way to bring the format to the screen. Merv described the specific camera angles and contestant shots he envisions, presented a detailed sketch of the stage and a state-of-the-art CGI animatic pilot that reveals the game play. I’m may be the wrong person to ask how effective this presentation was, but I will tell you this: when the winning contestant completed the lightning bonus round just under the wire, the room erupted in spontaneous applause. That’s television.

There was some brouhaha about the announcement of the Merv Griffin series. In advance, we had scheduled meetings with journalists for Monday (yesterday) to go on the record with a “major announcement”. We embargoed the story until then, because we just didn’t want to take any of the air out of our dramatic Sunday meeting. But on Friday last week, a few journalists had gotten wind of the story and were going to press with it. It all worked fine for us, and we’ve been blessed with terrific media support. But when one of the journalists showed up late for an interview yesterday because their hotel room had flooded, I couldn’t resist telling them the same thing we’ve repeated over and over again to our wonderful PR representatives… Wait for it…

“We’ve got to control these leaks!”


JR

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Comments (2)

I have seen many situations come and go in this industry, but the Idol has turn FOX into the biggest network fee-nom..But that was already laid by their predcessors "In Living Color, Simpsons, and many great sitcoms that came from their Urban writers tables .and then you had the ESPN & CNN generation that has generated major numbers in their catagories. But we still have not seen the numbers as we did for sitcoms like Bill Cosby, on NBC, American Idol is a musical/entertainment dance show is not a "SITCOM". Those years can not be brought back, but they can be looked and researched and maybe here at NATPE the networks will see a movement and/or new genre, ready to explode on the scene. As a small urban distributor for TV networks, the conference has shown us small industry guys one thing," Money" can not buy viewers, as hard as they try, talent brings viewers and by inculding the real urban market you will bring historical numbers. You must have talent in this industry but networks must have vision. So when we see the journalists running for a story here and we watch this scene being played out here with all the BIG SHOTS IN TV, they miss the real deal Holyfield here in Las Vegas, right behind them they're is stardom and creativity from small production companies with promise or international networks with a great lineup of TV shows that our viewers here would really love BUT you dont see that here. That is what should comes out of this conference, I would like to see ONE TIME, a network standing up in front of all of us and saying this or that small company has impressed them and we will sign them right now! Come on you know thats what we all want to see from this industry, when I leave here, I will bring back to the Bay Area and the West Coast that much closer to "STARDOM".
The Urban market is the actual star here but no one realizes it. Just another sleeping giant waiting to wake everyone else up again as did Bill Cosby when NBC was going under. By including the urban market in American Idol thats the real significance. Add the Urban Market and you have a HIT...Hoorah for the NATPE for bringing this growth and exposing this industry to all of us. Big or small, new or old school teleision.
We all gain alittle humility here at the NATPE

Thank YOU GUYS
Thanks Josh and Ritch

John McCartney-Founder/CEO
West Coast Black Television Network-Comcast

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I leaked the word Let's Play Crossroads. And that was because I got wind of another journalist scooping me. But, when the show was announced is irrelevant. What matters is the buzz that is building. We as an industry are excited to see someone outside of the majors step up to the plate with the support of the king of game shows, Merv Griffin, and The William Morris agency. Keep an eye -- or two -- on Let's Play Crossroads. It's got the word "hit" written all over it.

Marc Berman

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