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Chris-Craft a `Tracker’ backer

Mar 12, 2001  •  Post A Comment

A silent but powerful player in the syndication ranks, the Chris-Craft Industries station group finally made a move after a quiet NATPE in January.
The group, which includes KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and WWOR-TV in New York, has picked up its first groupwide series of the year, the Lions Gate/Mercury Entertainment action hour “Tracker.”
After Fox purchased the station group last year, rumors flew at the National Association of Television Program Executives convention that the general managers were unable to move forward with new pickups until News Corp.’s purchase of Chris-Craft is resolved in Washington. However, the addition of “Tracker” to the Chris-Craft lineup for the fall disproved that theory.
“We’ve always been able to move forward and clear a show,” said one station GM. “It was just a matter of waiting for the right project.”
With cancellation of “Baywatch Hawaii” and “Battledome,” and probably “Queen of Swords”-as well as losing “Maximum Exposure” to other stations-the group has a number of holes to fill, according to the source.
“The pickup indicates that the Chris-Craft stations are finally starting to acquire product for the fall,” said Bill Carroll, vice president and director of programming at Katz Television Group. “Once that process continues, it will be a big determinate on shows still looking for major market clearances.”
“Tracker” stars former “Highlander” star Adrian Paul as an alien hunter who travels the world in search of outlaws from a faraway galaxy.
The series is now cleared in nearly 70 percent of the country for its debut, with double runs in close to 50 markets. In addition to WWOR and KCOP, the series will air on WPWR-TV in Chicago, WPHL-TV in Philadelphia and WPXD-TV in Detroit. In addition to the Chris-Craft group, Sinclair stations will also air the series.
“Stations are excited about the return of Adrian Paul to the action hour business,” said Ira Bernstein, president of Mercury Entertainment, confirming the clearances. “There are better opportunities for time periods opening up out there than in the past six to eight years, and we hope to take advantage of that. Chris-Craft has always been supportive of its action hours, and I look forward to working with them again.”