`Arrest,’ `Mars/Venus’ to lose key stations

Apr 2, 2001  •  Post A Comment

A week after King World Productions all but pulled the plug on “Curtis Court,” two other freshman syndicated series took hits that may seal their fate.

Studios USA Domestic Television’s “Arrest & Trial” and Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” both will not receive second-year pickups from their primary station groups, according to sources, leaving the shows without clearances in major markets.

“Arrest & Trial” scored a coup last year with the Chris-Craft Industries stations, which placed the series in access time slots. However, the series received downgrades several weeks ago with the group’s acquisition of “Seinfeld,” which begins running this week. Now the group has opted not to renew its hold on “Arrest & Trial” for a sophomore season, leaving Studios USA in a tough position to secure new clearances before the new season. So far this season, “Arrest & Trial,” with a 2.0 rating, ranks third among freshma n first-run strips.

“We really had high hopes for the series, and it was a difficult choice to make,” said one source connected with the decision. “I’ve always enjoyed the show, but it wasn’t able to deliver what we thought it could.”

The syndicator said it stood by the comments Studios USA Domestic Television President Steve Rosenberg made after the downgrade was announced: “All of us at Studios USA are very proud of what we have accomplished with a fantastic first-season effort by everyone involved, starting with Executive Producers Dick Wolf and Rob Port, who created a quality, critically acclaimed show.

“We will pursue all other opportunities in the coming weeks to keep this series in production for a second season. Both Dick and I believe that `Arrest & Trial’ has the potential to be a long-term asset for the company.”

Meanwhile, an NBC general manager has said the station group has decided not to pick up another year of Columbia TriStar’s troubled “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” Sources said there is still some time to make the decision, and a Columbia TriStar spokesperson said the company has not received any formal notice that the series would be dropped.

The strip, which recently switched to an ensemble format after disappointing ratings with Cybill Shepherd as host, is averaging a 0.8 rating for the season.

However, industry sources said that Columbia TriStar is already working with the NBC owned-and-operated stations to create another daytime series designed to possibly take over the “Mars/Venus” time slots. Although the studio has the game show “Pyramid” waiting in the wings, an entirely new program is being assembled to possibly begin a run during the summer.