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Syndication projects taking shape for 2003

Mar 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

With six months to go before the new fall season begins, syndicators are cleaning up details on upcoming fall series and are already butting heads for projects targeting the 2003 season.
Already out of the gate for 2003-04 is a court show strip from Court TV personality Nancy Grace. The hour-long series is drawing interest from distributors ranging from Telepictures to NBC Enterprises, according to sources at the companies. Other companies that could be taking a look, according to the sources, include Buena Vista Television, Tribune Entertainment and Twentieth Television, although that could not be confirmed.
Ms. Grace, currently anchor of Court TV’s “Trial Heat,” joined the cable channel from Atlanta’s Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, where she served as special prosecutor of major felony cases involving murder, rape, child molestation and arson.
Last week, Stone Stanley Entertainment announced another series that could end up in syndication come 2003, after inking a deal with Mattel for a project based on the Magic 8-Ball fortune-telling toy. The independent production company currently is shopping the series to a number of outlets.
As for the upcoming season, Twentieth has made it official: It will bring thriving test show “Good Day Live” to a national audience after a successful slow rollout in seven markets. Six more markets will air the strip beginning March 18, and other players could see the fledgling series on their stations as early as this summer.
“The rollout process has worked incredibly well for us, and stations continue to give us positive reaction to the shows,” said Paul Franklin, executive VP and general sales manager of Twentieth Television. “Meanwhile, other stations continued to approach us for the series, and now we feel the time is right for a national platform for the show.”
Helping with the decision were January Nielsen results, which placed “Good Day Live” as the highest-rated daytime program among women 18 to 34 in Los Angeles.
“The solid ratings performance of `Good Day Live’ and favorable demos, especially with younger women, make this show stand out in the highly competitive daytime market,” said Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth.
Tribune firmed up some of its own commitments for the upcoming season by renewing “Family Feud” for its fourth season in 85 markets, representing 72 percent of the United States. The series most recently earned a 2.1 household rating, according to Nielsen numbers.
“Major groups and stations are renewing `Family Feud’ because they realize the value of this proven performer as opposed to the checkered performance of new entries,” said Steve Mulderrig, Tribune’s senior vice president for domestic and cable sales. “Group owners are giving `Feud’ a strong vote of confidence because it is generating strong ratings in daytime, early fringe and access, with significant year-to-year increases in a majority of markets.”
Last year, Tribune agreed to distribute the half-hour strip throughout the United States on behalf of Fremantle Media North America, which produces the show as part of a strategic alliance.
Still unanswered, however, is who will host the series, as current host Louie Anderson’s status is up in the air. Buena Vista’s upcoming syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is also under pressure to name a host. Sources now say neither company is near a decision, but in Buena Vista’s case, some stations are growing restless after paying stout license fees only to see prime-time ratings slip and Regis Philbin announce that he would not host the syndicated version of the show.