`The Immortal’ won’t die, says its syndicator

Feb 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

After disappearing from the ranks of the national ratings lists, Western International’s action hour “The Immortal” was all but pronounced dead by a number of industry pundits.
But according to company Chief Operating Officer Chris Lancey, not only is the Lorenzo Lamas hour still in the game, it’s preparing to advance its token.
“The Immortal” debuted this year averaging under a 1 Nielsen Media Research rating due to late-night time periods. In December, the series fell off the ratings map, going unrated for more than two months and prompting speculation that the series was canceled. Now the series has been renewed in the nation’s top market and is readying for a slew of upgrades in season two.
“It was only a ratings glitch when we switched our national barter sales operations to a different company,” Mr. Lancey said. “We are most definitely going to be here for a sophomore run. We expect to return to the Nielsens shortly.”
The hour has been renewed on New York’s WCBS-TV and Chicago’s WCIU-TV. Meanwhile WPHL-TV in Philadelphia has decided to upgrade the show next season. Still missing from the mix, however, is a renewal on Los Angeles station KNBC-TV. However, Mr. Lancey said other offers are on the table in the No. 2 market. In addition, former wrestling star Rena Mero will join the cast in the fall.
The company has been able to weather the slow first year, thanks to strong international deals already in place to bump up financing. Top importer Germany is in place, and a deal with France, which should clarify itself at MIP this year, is on the table.
Meanwhile, the weekly reality hour “Cheaters” continues to chalk up clearances for Western International after a slow rollout last year. After a run on a number of small markets for its freshman year, the series has now picked up its biggest market yet-NBC affiliate WCAU-TV in Philadelphia.
Mr. Lancey said the series, after finding only a handful of outlets last year, now claims 40 percent to 45 percent of the country, and he predicts that the number will top 75 percent before the start of season two.
“People are definitely discovering this show, and it’s truly a show that only an independent would take on,” he said. “Because we can experiment, we can step out and do the shows that are completely different from the majors.”