Psychics, sex and games

Jun 11, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Psychics may be all the rage in the syndication development ranks this year, but TV viewers can expect a whole lot of sex as well.
A potential plethora of holes in the fall 2002 schedule has opened up studios’ development slates, and with daytime takes of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Weakest Link” also grabbing headlines, two alternative new series being considered for the fall are citing “Sex and the City” as their inspiration.
Twentieth Television is working on bringing a new talk show that merges elements of “Sex and the City” and “The View” into a new talk strip titled “Girl Thing.” Still in early development and produced in association with Monet Lane Productions, the pilot presents a roundtable discussion of sex and relationships.
Meanwhile, Telepictures Distribution will spin its own series, “Matchmaker Mansion,” with Rocket Science Laboratories on board as producer. The series will aim to take the sexual discussions found in “Sex and the City,” according to sources, and add a reality/game show twist to the relationships.
In addition, Telepictures is considering a pilot from Tolin & Robins, with whom it has a production deal, for upcoming extreme sports reality series “Smashball.” The premise requires contestants to use basketball, soccer, gymnastics and hockey-among other sports-combined into a brand-new game. Should the series make it to the airwaves, the hour will be show weekly.
The company is also considering revisiting a version of “Love Connection” on which potential lovers will first meet online.
On the reality side of the industry, Paramount Domestic Television, Buena Vista Television, Pearson Television and MGM Television are said to be considering series on doctors, dishes and dummies, according to sources close to the studios.
Paramount is considering a daytime-driven reality series from the creators of Fox’s “Cops” that will focus on the world of medicine, titled “Doctors.” Buena Vista has its own spin with “Real Medical,” a soap/reality strip from Bunim-Murray.
Pearson, meanwhile, is working on a development deal with Jamie Oliver from the Food Network’s “The Naked Chef” to adapt the cable version of the series into a syndicated version for stations.
MGM will add its own strip to the mix with “The Dummies Guide,” a half-hour series based on the best-selling books covering everything from careers to wine to computers.
Talk shows remain the meat of the development season as studios scramble to lock up time slots left over from a number of older series expected to depart the airwaves at the end of the upcoming season.
The upcoming talk shows could theoretically be divided into two divisions-the natural and the supernatural.
Among the natural, Twentieth is considering a trio of series. One will feature current host of “The Test” and KTTV, Los Angeles, face Jillian Barberie and BET personality John Salley. Another could include former MTV VJ Kennedy, while the third will feature Rob Nelson, the founder of Generation X advocacy group Lead or Leave.
Studios USA has its own competitor in mind in “Mark and Me” for its 2002 syndicated project pipeline, with “Temptation Island” host Mark L. Walberg and former “The X Show” co-host Mark DeCarlo set to star.
Any of these could end up joining the likes of Buena Vista’s Tavis Smiley, NBC’s John Walsh and King World Productions’ Dr. Phil McGraw in the upcoming talk show ranks.
From mouths to minds, psychics are being signed left and right following the strong clearances of Studios USA’s “Crossing Over With John Edward” in January.
Two of the projects belong to Tribune, one with spiritual medium James Van Praagh and another with “astrologer to the stars” Ferdie Pacheco. Meanwhile, Twentieth is considering “State of Mind,” in association with Media Savvy, in which guests will seek guidance from a rotating panel of experts in the fields of psychology, astrology, numerology and sociology, among others. NBC is preparing to bring psychic Char Margolis into the mix, while Pearson is mulling over its own psychic projects.
One name that won’t be in the talk show world will be daytime vet Rosie O’Donnell. Despite reports and hoopla suggesting a defection by Ms. O’Donnell to Buena Vista to host the daytime version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Ms. O’Donnell will more likely end up executive-producing and/or starring in the upcoming Warner Bros. game show “Let’s Make a Deal.” The strip will likely be taped in Orlando, Fla., closer to her home in Miami.
Spokespersons for the studios would not comment or could not be reached for comment on the status of the potential series.