Future in jeopardy for `Jenny Jones’

Mar 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

After losing the country’s top stations, “The Jenny Jones Show” could be left holding a sign that reads “Tribune or bust.”
Syndicator Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution is in the process of negotiating with the Tribune station group for a multiyear pact, according to sources. The 11-year-old show could be handed a pink slip if the deal doesn’t go through.
The news comes after key stations such as KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and WWOR-TV in New York opted to drop the talk show rather than renew it.
Sources said that a number of options are at play, including different barter arrangements, with most hopes relying on a Tribune deal. Should the station group opt not to pick up the series, Warner Bros. President Dick Robertson could enter the market with a “Best of Jenny Jones” series, aiming to continue the presence of the cash cow. Mr. Robertson is also on the market with old runs of “Moral Court.”
Warner Bros. has a long history with Tribune, which currently airs off-network runs of “Friends” on its stations. Insiders place the odds of the deal happening and the series returning at 50-50. Tribune stations certainly could have the time slots open, with a bevy of off-network fare currently on in the early afternoon and series such as “Ananda Lewis” likely on the way out of the picture.
Unfortunately, “Jenny Jones” may be best known for putting Scott Amedure on the show as a secret admirer of fellow guest Jonathan Schmitz. Mr. Schmitz was later convicted of killing Mr. Amedure, with family members later suing the show over the incident.
The series still performs adequately in the ratings, averaging a 1.9 score so far this season. But rising production costs, a shrinking ad market and ratings erosion over the years have placed the life of the first-run series in jeopardy. The series is off 10 percent from its performance during the same period last season, when it earned a 2.3 household score.
The strip earned a 2.5 rating during the 1999-2000 book and reached an all-time high during the 1994-95 television season with a 4.8 GAA rating. During the November 2001 sweeps period, “Jenny Jones” ranked seventh among talk shows, tied with Columbia TriStar Domestic Television’s “Ricki Lake” and Studios USA’s “Crossing Over With John Edward.” “Jones” best demographic score is a 1.5 in women 18 to 34.
Rumors were published online earlier in the week that it would be “Ricki,” not “Jenny,” that could enter next season with “Best of” episodes. However, the rumor turned out to be false, with key Fox stations taking multiyear deals on “Ricki.” Columbia representatives confirmed that it would be business as usual next season under new executive producer Michael Rourke.
Warner Bros. executives would not comment on the status of “The Jenny Jones Show.”