`Shipmates’ sails to 95% clearance

Aug 6, 2001  •  Post A Comment

With a promise of “three days, two nights, one date and no escape,” Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s upcoming strip “Shipmates” is clearly playing the numbers game three weeks before its national debut and has brought aboard a new face to host the relationship series.
The syndicator has now added WWOR-TV, New York, to its roster to seal a 95 percent national clearance level, joining the likes of KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, WPWR-TV in Chicago, WPHL-TV in Philadelphia, WKBD-TV in Detroit and KTVK-TV in Phoenix.
The clearance puts the show in 49 of the top 50 markets in the country. WWOR is expected to air the series in late-fringe, while KCBS has slated a double run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. opposite traditional daytime heavyweights “Oprah” and “Rosie,” and just before KCAL-TV’s upcoming two-hour relationship block.
“It’s perfect counterprogramming for CBS and will probably bring in advertisers that have never bought in daytime on the station before,” said Steve Mosko, president of Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. “This is a series that will be able to find an audience that’s difficult to reach-and it’s able to air in every daypart.”
Just signed to take hosting reigns is Chris Hardwick, who previously hosted MTV’s relationship series “Singled Out” before starring in network series “Guys Like Us” on UPN in 1998 as well as in movies “Jack and Diane” and “House of 1,000 Corpses.” He is also a drive-time DJ on Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM. Mr. Hardwick replaces previous host Brien Blakely on the strip.
“Chris was hesitant to get back into hosting while he was working on his acting career,” said Russ Krasnoff, CTTD’s president of programming and production. “But we sent him a tape of the show, and he became just as excited to be a part of this project as we were to have him.”
During each episode of the reality series, created and executive-produced by John Tomlin and Bob Young, viewers will follow two strangers on a three-day date aboard a Carnival Cruise ship. The show is attempting to veer away from the comedy and competition approaches of other series and instead pull more elements from the booming network reality genre. Among these are storytelling over a lengthy period of time and open-ended settings driven by post-production editing and heavy narration from the participants.
“It took us three months to perfect the production process,” Mr. Krasnoff said. “With five couples being taped at a time, two cameras per couple, two crews per couple over a span of three days, we ended up with more than 60 hours of footage [per couple] that had to be condensed into one 22-minute show.” Taping started in June with five couples.
Welcome was Carnival’s participation and financial support of the show, with the travel line seeking to put the cruise experience in front of the viewer. The cruise line is currently planning its own marketing efforts to support the show.
“There was no chance to make this show without their support,” Mr. Krasnoff said. “We as programmers need to find the best economical model available to back these shows, and Carnival was passionate enough about it to find the space, not only for the participants but for the producers and crews as well.”