Distributors honing slates

Nov 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

While an early development season left syndication pundits doubtful that many new offerings would crop up late in the year, new series from NBC, King World, Paramount, Twentieth and Tribune, among others, are nonetheless expected to be announced before January.
Tribune Entertainment, according to company sources, is narrowing down its current development slate as the distributor goes for a trifecta after strong, sustained bows by “Andromeda” and “Mutant X” the past two years. The syndicator is said to be leaning away from its recent science-fiction fare in favor of “SPQR: Gladiators of Rome” or “The Ultimate Adventure Company,” and could make a formal announcement soon. One station manager implied “SPQR” had an early lead, but others said that either could make the final cut.
Whichever series Tribune picks could end up being the only weekly first-run action hour to come out this year after a flood of other projects attempted the task. Fireworks Entertainment at one time was said to be moving toward producing “Perfect Dark,” based on the video game, but that show now appears to be out of the picture.
Paramount Domestic Television is said to be making presentations to stations on the reality strip “Doctors,” a “Cops”-like look behind the scenes at a hospital. According to one general manager, Paramount looks to be favoring reality for fall 2002, with “Doctors” leading the pack over series such as “The Bar,” which is being pitched to networks, or Big Ticket Television’s talk show “Don’t Get Me Started.”
Fellow Viacom distributor King World Productions has once again tapped the talents of Howard Stern-after canceling his weekly series last week. The syndicator has inked a deal for a comedy from Mr. Stern’s production company that could very well fit into the shock jock’s former late-night time slot. The potential series, “Kane,” follows the life of an eccentric Southern family whose long-lost matriarch returns home. “Kane” could push the envelope the same way Mr. Stern’s comedy “Son of the Beach” does on cable network FX. If picked up, the series could debut later this season or at the beginning of next season.
On the court show front, Telco Productions is moving forward with “We the Jury,” in which the camera will focus on the panel of peers who will decide the outcome of various cases. The series comes from “Mad About You’s” Bill Grundfest, “Animal Rescue’s” Alex Paen and Bill Nagy. MGM Television has also been pondering a court show called “Twisted Justice.”