Sizing up the syndie rookies

Aug 26, 2002  •  Post A Comment

With a talk-heavy season nearly upon syndicated audiences, Bill Carroll, VP and director of group programming at Katz Television Group, broke down the advantages and disadvantages facing each of the upcoming rookie talk shows.
“The Caroline Rhea Show”
Distributor: Telepictures
Positives: “She’s the anointed successor to a very successful host in Rosie O’Donnell. She’s now had a pretty good opportunity in being able to fill in for Rosie and establish her own on-air style.”
Negatives: “Talk/variety is a very difficult genre to successfully pull off as it requires a unique balance of talent and audience. Unfortunately, she’s not always inheriting Rosie’s time periods, and late-night clearances can be difficult to overcome.”
“Dr. Phil”
Distributor: King World
Positives: “‘Dr. Phil’s’ huge advantage right now is name recognition. The fact that his show in essence has been on the air as part of “Oprah” for several seasons and daytime audiences are used to him [is to his benefit]. He comes to the table with one of the best launch lineups for a talk show in years. In addition, he’s compatible with the majority of stations that are set to air his show. With clearances typically set for the afternoon and knowing that he won’t be pitted against Oprah, [it] provides him a prime opening to daytime fans.”
Negatives: “Although ‘Dr. Phil’ won’t air against ‘Oprah,’ in many cases the program will not inherit her incumbent station either. This will require viewers to search for his show.”
“Beyond With James Van Praagh”
Distributor: Tribune
Positives: “He’s following the footsteps of the successful launch of Universal strip ‘Crossing Over With John Edward,’ and history has proven that there is usually room for a couple of shows in the same genre. Unlike ‘Crossing Over,’ ‘Beyond’ has the advantage of being developed specifically for daytime audiences. In addition, he has the advantage of having a co-host to play off his personality. The CBS miniseries on his life gave him some name recognition and credibility. Finally, it works to the show’s advantage that it was developed specifically for the needs of the Tribune station group.”
Negatives: “Given the nature of his show, the audience has to embrace what it is that he does, which is contacting the dead. Unlike other talk shows where the series can change formats to play to different audiences or bring in cuddly animals, if viewers don’t like what he does, there is no show.”
“The John Walsh Show”
Distributor: NBC Enterprises
Positives: “‘John Walsh’ has a lineup of stations, including those owned by NBC, Gannett and Hearst, that will serve as the building block for a potentially long run. He can also claim national name recognition and he is as close to a brand as possible today, at least in his role as an advocate and as host of ‘America’s Most Wanted.'”
Negatives: “No one has really been able to produce a compelling non-exploitive, single-topic talk show other than ‘Oprah.’ The single-topic show has almost gone out of style, so now NBC is positioning him as this generation’s Donahue. Unfortunately, only the audience can tell you if they are looking for that.”
“The Rob Nelson Show”
Distributor: Twentieth
Positives: “Here the strongest thing going for the show is that the Fox O&O group has had pretty good success in being able to launch shows, especially their own. If the station group believes in him, he will get the opportunity to stay on the air long enough to get sampling. Other shows wouldn’t have that kind of time.”
Negatives: “Who is Rob Nelson? At a time when some of the other new entries have the sense of being better known, he clearly brings up the rear in national recognition.”
“The Wayne Brady Show”
Distributor: Buena Vista
Positives: “This is the key project for Buena Vista and it’s going to be one the ABC O&Os place in important daytime time periods. Buena Vista is giving him an advantage of being able to pick and choose where the show is going to run because it’s a slow rollout, in many cases inheriting solid time periods.”
Negatives: “Although Wayne Brady is certainly well-known, he’s not exactly a household name. With ‘Caroline Rhea’ waiting in the wings on many of his stations, he’s probably going to have to be perceived as successful pretty soon.”