`Cheaters’ and `Verne’ get New York berths

Oct 1, 2001  •  Post A Comment

As the new fall season gears up, two weekly hours have added key clearances to their national lineup, while another has gone the way of the dinosaur.
Sophomore series “Cheaters” and syndicated newcomer “The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne” have both finally pinned down their golden goose, with New York stations coming aboard days before their new season launches. On the other hand, action hour “The Immortal” will not return for a second season.
Western International’s series “Cheaters” has been added to the WWOR-TV lineup after a slow rollout last season in small markets. The series, however, boosted ratings enough that larger markets took on the show later in the season. Last April, the independent distributor added Los Angeles station KCAL-TV and can now claim the nation’s top market in WWOR, the former Chris-Craft Industries UPN affiliate recently purchased by the Fox station group.
“Stations have finally realized what this show can bring to the table,” said Chris Lancey, Western International’s chief operating officer. “We had to prove we could get the ratings, and we now stand at over 75 percent of the country for season two.”
“Cheaters” focuses on a confrontation in which an unfaithful spouse is shown video evidence of his or her transgressions for the edification of the viewing audience. It was enough to raise eyebrows-but not enough to nail the key clearances needed in today’s consolidated marketplace.
The hour-long series had previously aired on stations such as WDSU-TV in New Orleans, where it had reached ratings as high as an 8.9 following airings of “Saturday Night Live.”
While “Cheaters” has turned into a bright spot, Western has found it tough going for another of its series. The company is pulling the plug on action hour “The Immortal,” starring Lorenzo Lamas. The series had completed one season and was cleared in 85 percent of the country for season two before recent shifts in international financing forced the show to close down, sources said.
“It was unfortunate that `The Immortal’ was not able to come back for another go-around,” said Mr. Yancey, confirming the demise of the series. “Shows these days need a couple of years to mature. But that hasn’t stopped us from looking at action hours in the future. We continue to believe that the genre provides viable opportunities in the marketplace.”
Western is now looking at other action hours to add to its stable before January’s National Association of Television Program Executives convention and at other reality and game shows, both stripped and in weekly formats.
“We look forward to signing more shows that will capitalize on the reality trend, especially in the strip arena,” Mr. Yancey said. “It’s cost-efficient programming that provides good ratings and brings audiences to television.”
Meanwhile, Promark Television has added its own shine on the Big Apple, clearing “The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne” on WCBS-TV. The series now stands at a 90 percent clearance level nationally.