John Walsh wanted in syndication

Dec 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

NBC Enterprises is on the verge of closing a deal with the NBC-owned stations to air an upcoming talk show featuring John Walsh, who is best known as the host of “America’s Most Wanted,” in fall 2002.
Meanwhile, Tribune Entertainment has opted to pull the plug on inherited Pearson Television game show “Card Sharks,” with the staff being notified late last week that production was coming to a halt.
Mr. Walsh’s hour-long strip is expected to clear all 13 of the NBC O&Os, including WNBC-TV in New York, KNBC-TV in Los Angeles and WMAQ-TV in Chicago, to cover 28.1 percent of the country, according to station sources. NBC formed an alliance earlier in the year with Gannett Broadcasting and Hearst-Argyle Television, which could soon fill in some remaining gaps for a clearance level as high as 60 percent of the country.
NBC Enterprises executives would not comment on the pending deal.
The addition of Mr. Walsh to the talk show scene adds intrigue to next year’s talk wars, which will already see King World Productions’ “Dr. Phil,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” replacement Caroline Rhea for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Twentieth Television’s Rob Nelson on the circuit. Additionally, sources said Tribune is expected to move forward with talk show “James Van Praagh,” set to air the same season.
Mr. Walsh’s time on the show is unlikely to affect his work on “America’s Most Wanted,” since the Fox series only tapes on Fridays.
Tribune, however, will open up real estate with the cancellation of “Card Sharks” effective in January. The series was inherited from Fremantle Corp. after Tribune formed an alliance with the former syndicator to distribute “Family Feud,” “Card Sharks” and “To Tell the Truth.” “Sharks” debuted this season and has thus far earned a 0.9 season average with a 0.4 rating among adults 18 to 49.
Other syndication developments saw Warner Bros. appearing to finalize its 2002 slate. In addition to offering Caroline Rhea and a revived “Moral Court,” the distributor looks likely to offer “Celebrity Justice,” a half-hour strip profiling civil conflicts and criminal investigations involving celebrities, as well as “Matchmaker Mansion” under the Telepictures banner.
Finally, Buena Vista Television has may tap fellow ABC family member Wayne Brady for a series said to be similar to Mr. Brady’s prime-time comedy sketch show that aired over the summer on ABC.