Trifecta Sets ‘Laguna’ as Syndie Strip for ’09

Dec 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

MTV’s “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” and its spinoff, “The Hills,” are being made available as a single package for syndication starting in the fall of 2009.
Trifecta Entertainment & Media is shopping the teen-reality dramas, along with A&E’s “Cold Case Files,” as daily strips for stations.
Reality show “Laguna Beach” followed the lives of several teenagers, including Lauren Conrad, living in the Southern California beach town. “The Hills” was spun off from “Laguna,” focusing on Ms. Conrad and her friends living in Los Angeles.
“Laguna” and “Hills” are being offered together, meaning the episode run will start with the first three seasons of “Beach” before moving into “Hills.” The block will include 43 episodes of “Laguna” and 70 episodes of “Hills.”
“We’re gratified that our company has been entrusted with these brands from these networks,” said Trifecta CEO Hank Cohen, the former president of MGM Television. “That feels really good.”
Mr. Cohen said he thinks “Hills” can work within a lot of stations’ time periods, either as a standard soap opera during daytime or as something that could run later, he said, citing a surprisingly solid ratings showing in young male demographics.
A concern with “Laguna”/“Hills” is its complicated relationship and season-arc storylines, something that could hamper sporadic syndication viewers. Mr. Cohen said he doesn’t believe it’s a stumbling block, as all episodes contain a thorough recap; while there are seasonlong storylines, each episode also features some type of self-contained plot resolution.
Trifecta also is offering 116 episodes of “Cold Case Files,” an hour documentary series that investigates unsolved murders using modern methods. Mr. Cohen said “Case” could play well within a station’s court or crime procedural programming block.
Syndication generally has been light on reality-based shows, despite the glut of offerings on prime time and cable. Past syndicated reality programming, including MTV’s “The Real World,” have either been poorly received or mismanaged.
“The expansion of reality in prime time is relatively new, so it’s going to take time for syndication to catch up,” Mr. Cohen said.
Trifecta hasn’t announced any clearances yet for either offering, but Mr. Cohen said stations have been receptive to the programming.
In its third year, Trifecta Entertainment’s stable of programming includes MTV’s celebrity hidden-camera show “Punk’d” and “American Idol Rewind,” which recaps past seasons of the Fox reality mega-hit.
The distribution company hasn’t wandered into first-run territory yet, but Mr. Cohen hinted that he’s interested in the action-adventure genre, which hasn’t seen many offerings of late, save for Disney-ABC’s “Legend of the Seeker.”

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