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It’s not easy being weekly

Apr 1, 2002  •  Post A Comment

With the February book now over, several series on the bubble have all but learned their fate for the upcoming fall season, and not all the news is good.
Meanwhile, upcoming series are quickly moving in to cement their own spots come September.
The dwindling number of first-run dramatic series in syndication will fall by at least one more, with stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago announcing that Columbia TriStar Domestic Television’s sophomore series “Sheena” will not return for a third go-round.
“Sheena,” which stars Gena Lee Nolin, will soon be given the official ax, according to sources close to the project. The weekly action hour most recently pulled a 1.8 household rating for the week ending March 17 against stiff competition from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Stations carrying the show include KABC-TV in Los Angeles and WWOR-TV in New York.
The news follows previous announcements that Studios USA Domestic Television’s “Invisible Man” and Tribune Entertainment’s “Earth Final Conflict” also will not return to syndication. Action hours have seen a downturn in clearances in recent years due to the high costs of production, which means higher license fees or a strong international presence are needed to break even.
Facing better news is Fireworks series “Relic Hunter,” which was just renewed for a fourth year on its Fox stations. “Relic” was close to becoming a relic, according to sources. Rumors are flying that producer Fireworks may soon announce a new distrubtor for the action hour. The show is currently distributed by Paramount.
The Fox deal, which includes stations in New York and Los Angeles, all but guarantees another year of the Tia Carrere vehicle. The series averaged a 1.6 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, for the week ending March 17.
Another series deemed to be on the chopping block, “The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne,” has been saved by distributor Promark Television, which has now renewed the series for season two in almost 60 percent of the country. The independent distributor has been able to weather the down advertising market and a rating under 1.0 due to a second season’s worth of episodes already in the can from Canada, where it is taped.
So far this season, several high-profile action hours have stepped forward in an attempt to replace the departing shows. Tribune’s “The Ultimate Adventure Company,” NBC Enterprises’ “BAIT,” October Moon Television’s “Once a Thief” and Western International’s “Starhunter.” Each of those shows has been declared a “firm go” for the fall.

On the reality side of the equation, NBC Enterprises’ syndicated vehicle for MSNBC star Chris Matthews continues to move forward with deals likely being wrapped up on the NBC owned-and-operated stations.