Warner Bros. Television Distribution and NBC Television Stations have forged a strategic long-term programming partnership. It will put Bonnie Hunt’s maiden talk show, being developed for fall 2008 launch, on nine of the 10 stations in the NBC group and extend the group’s firm commitment to “Extra” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
The deal, the first big one of Ken Werner’s 13-month run as president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, was announced Thursday by recently named NBC Television Stations President John Wallace and Mr. Werner.
The Bonnie Hunt vehicle from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Telepictures Productions starts with a firm commitment for a two-year run, except for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Warner Bros. has been courting the comedy writer, producer, director and performer for several years, according to Mr. Werner.
“Bonnie Hunt is an iconic personality and a proven entertainer with a distinctive comedic voice and point of view. She is the quintessential everywoman with an authenticity, likability and relatability that will connect with the daytime audience. Bonnie has attracted the attention of the talk show community for years. Anyone who has seen her regular talk show appearances and guest hosting on ‘Letterman’ or ‘Regis and Kelly’ knows she has the talent and rare skills to host a daily show,” said Telepictures Productions President Hilary Estey McLoughlin.
“Extra” is being extended by two years through 2012 on NBC owned-and-operated stations, while the Emmy-winning “Ellen” is extended by one year through 2011.
For the NBC stations, which have struggled in daytime in recent years, the deal secures a longtime staple in “Extra” and the younger “Ellen” which tends to build on its lead-in wherever it has been positioned.
“We’re very pleased to extend our relationship with Warner Bros., ensuring our stations continue to receive a steady supply of quality programming from one of our most valued and trusted partners,” Mr. Wallace said in the announcement. “As the daytime syndication marketplace continues to evolve, it’s critical that we have strong creative partners, like Warner Bros., who share our goals and are committed to working with us to provide programs that resonate with our viewers and fit with the NBC brand.”
“For the past year, we have had a series of in-depth strategic discussions with NBC management and general managers concerning their long-term strategic goals,” Mr. Werner said in the announcement. “It was through this collaborative process that we each discovered a significant alignment of interests that made these deals possible.”
“The daytime syndication marketplace is more challenging than ever,” Mr. Werner said. “Stations have been telling us that having a robust schedule of first-run programming is vital to their well-being. It is our primary business. We are thrilled to continue to work closely with John Wallace and the NBC stations to provide them with outstanding programming and marketing that is consistent with their objectives.”