No syndication at this summer’s TCA tour

Jun 3, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Some blame Dr. Laura. Some blame the studios or the economy. Some blame the TCA and critics. Some just don’t care.
For the first time in over a decade, there will be no formal syndication presence at this summer’s Television Critics Association tour, a break in the long tradition of presenting upcoming syndicated series to critics around the country. Unlike last year, there was no movement to revive the event, long known as Synditel, and some syndicators have been left scratching their heads in bewilderment, wondering what happened.
Two years ago the first clear blow came when critics were in an uproar over the last-minute cancellation of the appearance of the controversial Dr. Laura Schlessinger at the event. After other personalities also failed to show up or were late, Synditel was put on notice that it would have to re-evaluate its priorities if the event was to return. Last year, with only a half day to present and fewer studios participating due to the economy, critics bellowed that the afternoon program was no longer newsworthy.
Former TCA President Eric Kohanik soon announced the decision to eliminate Synditel, leaving syndicators with the only option to borrow time from their network associates.
Some critics of Synditel said that it was the syndicators who brought the end of the presentations, haggling over the $7,000 fee and then presenting their show without airing the pilot, leaving critics nothing newsworthy to write about.
So far, the only confirmed syndication presence will come from NBC, where NBC Enterprises will host an informal session for the upcoming “John Walsh” talk show. Two other studios are considering hosting a cocktail or a breakfast but said the final decision will be slow coming.
“We are making a concerted effort to talk to producers of interesting syndicated shows on an individual basis … because we believe that the greater variety of content to werite about, the more effective the tour,” said Kay McFadden, VP of TCA.
The light at the end of the tunnel for Synditel could come next year, because series associated with such personalities as Ellen DeGeneres, Will Smith and Sarah Ferguson are in development and could be on the table for fall 2003. Should syndicators and the TCA opt for another stab at the critics, former Synditel organizer Jeff Pryor said he’ll be waiting.
“Our firm has always been committed to serving the syndicators and the press with a successful event if anyone is interested in revitalizing it,” Mr. Pryor said. “We believe there was value to it before and will continue to be valuable in the future.”