Slow ‘Brady’ rollout seeks strong stations

Mar 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

With talk show distributors plodding methodically and tinkering with new financial models, one upcoming strip, “The Wayne Brady Show,” could have all the elements to stick-a well-known host, a successful producer and a distributor who’s being picky.
After clearing the ABC owned-andoperated stations for the fall launch of “Wayne Brady,” distributor Buena Vista Television opted for quality over quantity. The series is launching on a slow rollout, cleared on select stations on a straight cash deal.
The syndicator has now added new stations to the original launch group. Boston ABC affiliate WCVB-TV; Atlanta station WXIA-TV; Tampa, Fla.’s WFTS-TV; Denver’s McGraw-Hill station KMGH-TV; Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR-TV; WCPO-TV in Cincinnati; WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Raycom’s Memphis station WMC-TV; and WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y. have all joined the ABC O&Os in carrying the series.
“Brady” grabbed headlines at January’s National Association of Television Program Executives market after Buena Vista announced that the series would take over “Rosie O’Donnell’s” time slots this season, often at 10 a.m. With executive producer Robert Morton on board, the syndicator is honing the show for a long run in syndication.
“From a sales point of view, what’s really unique about this show is that it’s not a broad rollout-it’s limited,” said Tom Cerio, executive VP of sales at Buena Vista. “For once, I’m not racing around the country. We can be careful in creating a platform that is going to be very supportive of the show. Better time periods and more powerful stations are going to give us the chance to see how this show performs in almost a perfect environment.”
Mr. Brady is well known to the ABC brass. He is a regular on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and hosts a prime-time “Wayne Brady Show” for the network. Now, with a selective daytime audience at play, the distribution team behind the show believes it has finally found its hook after troubles with “Iyanla” and “The Ainsley Harriott Show.”
“This is going to be about crafting a connection with the audience,” said Holly Jacobs, senior VP of programming and production at Buena Vista Productions. “We’re not going to do a show that only serves to plug a new film. Instead, Robert and Wayne are going to bring back the surprising fun elements of the old Merv Griffin or Mike Douglas shows.”
Part of that element will come from former “David Letterman” producer Mr. Morton.
“They [Mr. Brady and Mr. Morton] truly complement each other,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Who knows this form of programming better than Robert Morton? He broke down that fourth wall on `Letterman’ and began incorporating the audience and the crew. They can be some of our greatest assets.”