ABC O&Os try to make room for `Caroline Rhea’

Jan 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

While Warner Bros. Domestic Television talk show “Caroline Rhea” was originally designed to take the time slots of “Rosie O’Donnell,” it could end up in late-night instead.
At last week’s National Association of Television Program Executives convention, Warner Bros. announced that “Caroline Rhea” had cleared eight of the ABC owned-and-operated stations, as well as KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and WCIU-TV in Chicago. However, the ABC O&Os had previously cleared Buena Vista’s “The Wayne Brady Show” with a guarantee that the strip will take “Rosie’s” spot in the lineup on those stations carrying the long-running talk show.
Sources say “Rhea” is now being targeted for late-night-and with ABC buying a 50 percent interest in “Caroline Rhea,” few expect the series to get buried in the schedule on those ABC stations. In fact, one source close to the situation stated that with ABC still in negotiations with Bill Maher for another season of “Politically Incorrect,” “Rhea” is being considered for the midnight time slot should Mr. Maher opt not to come back.
Otherwise, the “Rhea” show will air after the half-hour “Incorrect” at 12:30 a.m.
Officially, both station executives and syndicators are on the record saying that there are other time slots for “Rhea” in both daytime and late-night, although some have privately confirmed that “Rhea” is in the running for Mr. Maher’s time slot “without question.” Warner Bros. executives will prepare the show for both daytime and late-night audiences, especially with a third of the country still to clear.
In fact, most of the major incoming freshman series still have about that much of the country left to clear, and the much-needed WB 100+ station group only has so many time slots left to fill. Only “Dr. Phil” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” currently have broken the important 80 percent mark, thanks to summer clearances. So a number of challenges remain before some of the series can make it to air.
In order for them to do so, current series will have to give way. Although no announcements have been made about new cancellations, a look at series not being renewed on their current stations gives a clearer picture as to who may survive.
Most telling of the non-renewals may come from Los Angeles, where two relationship strips, according to sources, will not receive second-year renewals for the fall from their current homes.
Paramount Domestic Television’s “Rendez-View” appears to be in the most trouble in the market with current broadcaster KCAL opting against a pickup, according to a station source. The series ranks at the bottom of the bevy of relationship shows with a 0.9 national rating and a 0.6 in the key adults 18 to 49 demographic.
Paramount has said no decision has been made on the show, and a studio spokesperson had no comment on KCAL’s decision not to renew. The other high-profile series looking shaky for another season is Columbia TriStar’s “Shipmates,” which has grown since its debut but still earns only a 1.0 nationally and a 0.6 in adults 18 to 49. A well-placed source at Los Angeles station KCBS-TV says the series will “definitely” not be back on the station, leaving the strip without the country’s second-largest market.
Final decisions from syndicators as to whether to pull the plug on these shows, and on other series considered to be on the bubble, such as “Ananda Lewis” and “The Other Half,” likely will not come until after February sweeps.