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Katz forecasts hits for upcoming season

Jan 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

When it comes to the treasures being mined by syndicators for the fall season, Katz Television Group Programming believes it has the map to the gold.
The company’s annual review of the upcoming syndication landscape for more than 350 stations reveals that King World Productions may have the prescription for talk show ratings, while a new generation of game shows could spread cheer to broadcasters.
The program reviews distributed via satellite feed to client stations earlier this season were broken down by category.
With “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Live With Regis and Kelly” dominating daytime, Katz is giving its top honor in the genre to King World’s upcoming “Dr. Phil.” The straight-shooting psychologist, who has been a staple of “Oprah’s” Tuesday episodes, will break into syndication on his own in 2002 with the help of King World sales and Paramount production. Already the series is being slotted for a slew of 3 p.m. time slots.
“We believe that solid camera presence and the ability to connect with viewers are likely to make `Dr. Phil’ a success, and we are recommending `Dr. Phil’ as our unqualified talk show choice for fall 2002,” said Bill Carroll, VP/director of programming at Katz.
After Studios USA’s success with “Crossing Over With John Edward” this season, Tribune is hoping to capitalize on that momentum with its own spin on the paranormal, “Beyond With James Van Praagh.” Mr. Van Praagh will seek to expand audience insights by including astrologers, face readers and other psychics.
“For current successful `Crossing Over’ stations who wish to extend their potential franchise and for those hoping to join them, `Beyond With James Van Praagh’ is a worthy extension of the paranormal genre,” said Mr. Carroll. From Tribune Entertainment, “Beyond” already has been scheduled on the Tribune stations for the fall.
Grabbing their share of headlines this season have been the clearances racked up by Buena Vista’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and NBC’s “Weakest Link” on the first-run syndication circuit after successful network entries. Of these, Katz gives its highest recommendation to “Millionaire,” providing a familiar face comes with the project.
“While we continue to anticipate Buena Vista’s announcement of `Millionaire’s’ host, we encourage them to take the safer course and stay with the host that made `Is that your final answer?’ the maxim of last season,” said Ruth Leaycraft, VP/director of programming for Continental Television Sales.
“Link” and Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “$100,000 Pyramid,” however, are viewed as having potential as well, with both expected to be positive performers in the right time slots.
Among reality/newsmagazine fare, the company is quick to point out that news mags are heating up. It cites the ratings uptick of last season, when the magazines took advantage of the viewer’s draw to the prime-time reality/game genre and the more-than-newsworthy events of Sept. 11. They say another factor involved in this ratings rejuvenation may be the fact that there are currently only four, not seven or eight, magazines trying to outscoop each other.
With that, the company gives a positive review to Telepictures Distribution’s spinoff of “Extra,” dubbed “Celebrity Justice.” Already, a number of stations are rumored to have signed on to the show.
Katz Director of Programming Research Lisa Hollaender said, “Telepictures is taking advantage of this short list of magazines and their recent ratings hype by combining the viewer’s fascination with both celebrities and court cases into `Celebrity Justice.”’
In the off-net universe, sales for 2002 are mostly complete, and many eyes will be focusing on fall 2003. After the success of King World’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” earlier this season, the group sees mass potential for one series in particular coming down the pike.
“Of these options, we feel that `Malcolm in the Middle,’ which in our opinion is well written, well acted and laugh-out-loud funny, has the best potential for sitcom buyers at nontraditional affiliates,” said Jim Curtin, Katz senior programmer/director of programming. He adds, “Looking to traditional affiliates, we prefer `King of Queens,’ which tracks demographically well with younger male viewers. This working-class family comedy will be a welcome addition for stations that have found success with `Everybody Loves Raymond.”’