Syndie’s post-Feb. nervous time

Mar 12, 2001  •  Post A Comment

With the February sweeps wrapped up and a number of series now pegged as “Dead Shows Walking,” several up-and-comers for the fall season are stepping up to the plate, announcing key clearances and a “go” for the new season, while others are cementing their hold throughout the country.
New Line Television’s upcoming action hour “Hard Knox,” with Thomas Calabro, Kim-Maree Penn and Lee Majors, has now cleared the top three markets with deals at WCBS-TV in New York, KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and WGN-TV in Chicago. The series has been labeled a “go” for fall 2001, clearing in 84 percent of the country.
“The response to the show has been terrific,” said David Spiegelman, executive vice president of New Line. “Affiliates were really taken with the combination of comedy and action and the extraordinary on-screen chemistry between Calabro and Penn. We also found that our station partners were excited about Lee Majors’ return to television.”
New deals have also been wrapped up in additional markets across the country, including KRON-TV, San Francisco; Denver’s KTVD-TV; WRAZ-TV, Raleigh, N.C.; WJWB-TV, Jacksonville, Fla.; Seattle’s KING-TV; Tampa’s WTOG-TV; KSTP-TV, Minneapolis; WFTV, Orlando, Fla.; and WSOC-TV, Charlotte, N.C. Previously announced stations include WDCA-TV, Washington; WSB-TV, Atlanta; and KTXH-TV, Houston.
In addition, Tribune Entertainment has firmed up the status of its upcoming weekly hour “Mutant X,” as well as its veteran trio of “Andromeda,” “Beastmaster” and “Earth: Final Conflict.”
The highly anticipated “Mutant X” has now reached 86 percent of the country for the new season, with two-year commitments and double runs in 125 markets. New stations signed include WFTC-TV, Minneapolis; WBNX-TV, Cleveland; WKCF-TV, Orlando; and KNDL-TV, St. Louis.
This season’s clear freshman champion, “Andromeda” is certain to graduate to its sophomore year with 97 percent of the country renewed for a second year. KNXV-TV, Phoenix; KNDL, St. Louis; WSYX-TV, Columbus, Ohio; and WMC-TV, Memphis, Tenn., are among the stations bringing the hit to their lineups.
“Beastmaster” has secured renewals in 81 percent of the country as San Francisco’s KBWB-TV and WDWB-TV in Detroit renewed their deals to bring the sophomore series back for its junior year. Finally, “Earth: Final Conflict” has also renewed its lifespan in San Francisco, on KTVU-TV, as well as WFTC in Minneapolis for an 80 percent clearance for the fifth year of the hour.
Meanwhile, the bubble has all but burst for a number of shows struggling to add another season to their rosters.
Without the Fox owned-and-operated stations in the bag in the major markets, sources say Telepictures Distribution has let the studio space for sophomore talk show “Queen Latifah” expire. In addition, the strip has not opted to pick up contracts for key production staff members for another season.
The series had been on the bubble, but with Twentieth Television and the Fox O&Os experimenting with regional launches, the talk show-the lowest-rated among the veterans-looks to be laid to rest without an outlet in the major markets. A Telepictures spokesman would not comment on the future of the show.
Another strip on the bubble, Studios USA’s “Arrest & Trial,” was deemed all but dead by some sources after receiving a downgrade from its access time slots in New York and Los Angeles. However, a sophomore run is still very much up in the air, according to company executives, as the series has already secured renewals in most of the country.
“We will pursue all other opportunities in the coming weeks to keep this series in production for a second season,” said Steve Rosenberg, president of Studios USA Domestic Television. “Both [Executive Producer] Dick Wolf and I believe that `Arrest & Trial’ has the potential to be a long-term asset for the company.”