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More of Regis, less of Stern?

Nov 5, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Changes brewing for the 2002 syndication season could mean the cancellation of “Howard Stern” and an added dose of Regis Philbin.
King World Productions may be developing a late-night series designed to replace airings of “The Howard Stern Radio Show” on the CBS owned-and-operated stations, sources say. Although a King World spokesperson would not comment on any upcoming changes, station sources and other insiders say the weekly Stern series may be on its last legs with the company due to advertiser troubles.
The series managed to pull strong numbers in the key demographics for the CBS station group, where it has earned a 1.7 household rating and 5 share thus far this season, with coverage just under 50 percent of the country. Still, advertisers have continued to shy away from the program, prompting its broadcasters to seek a way out of the show. Instead, King World may be considering a new series designed to appeal to the same audience through a deal being negotiated with producer Eddie October.
King World currently has daytime strip “Dr. Phil” cleared in 90 percent of the country for the 2002 season, joining “Weakest Link,” “$100,000 Pyramid” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” as early cleared strips. “Millionaire,” meanwhile, is rumored to be close to locking in prime-time host Regis Philbin as its daytime talent as well. Although a Disney spokesperson would only confirm that Mr. Philbin is on the short list and that no negotiations are taking place, stations are said to be not-so-quietly hoping that he takes hosting duties, especially with fewer prime-time versions being aired on ABC.
Warner Bros. Domestic Television sources say the distributor may have two other series to join Rosie O’Donnell replacement Caroline Rhea for the stations. Relationship strip “Matchmaker Mansion” is said to be moving forward, while “Moral Court” may make an early comeback in some markets. The series has added San Francisco station KTVU-TV to its Los Angeles and Chicago outlets in a two-year deal primed with double runs. Sources said the strip may make a return on April 1 in some markets with episodes already in the can before going national in September for a new season.
The series was canceled last year after it failed to break a 1.0 in the national household ratings.
Twentieth Television is now said to be moving forward with both its Rob Nelson talk show project and “Good Day USA” for the new year. The strips would join the January launch of “Texas Justice,” which had a regional spring run in the South this year. “Good Day” could follow a similar path, and it is rumored it will have a regional rollout as early as December.
Twentieth is also bringing back “Cops” for another year after seeing spikes in ratings after the Sept. 11 tragedies-the series has most recently drawn a 2.0 score. In the off-network arena, the distributor is planning beyond the 2002 season, with shows such as “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Judging Amy” and “Boston Public” being readied for off-network sales for 2003 and beyond.
NBC Enterprises doesn’t appear to be content with the early clearances of “Weakest Link” and is preparing two other projects for the season-one likely to be a talk show with “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh and the other being either the sophomore run of “The Other Half” or the Erin Brockovich project in development.
A project from “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels has been moved to the 2003 season.