Rudner dishes advice

Oct 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

If you ask Rita Rudner about her upcoming talk show strip, she’ll say she was driven to create a show that provides freedom and the opportunity to use comedians in a market where there are few. Now, if you ask key ABC owned-and-operated stations about “Ask Rita” they’ll say the show was a perfect fit for their schedules.
Featuring the quirky stand-up comedienn, “Ask Rita” will launch in January, distributed by Litton Syndication. ABC stations in New York, Chicago and Houston have joined other markets in clearing the strip for its Jan. 27 debut. In mid-markets, deals include Fox affiliate XETV in San Diego and NBC affiliate KVBC in Las Vegas (as a “Today” show leadout). In smaller markets, the new strip has been cleared on the WB100+ Station Group for its January launch.
Litton has completed deals for a wide spectrum of time periods on various affiliates in late fringe, early fringe, daytime and prime access. Litton is offering flexibility with the show, making it available with two separate and distinct half-hours each day.
“Everything is going better than expected for `Ask Rita,’ because this is a show the marketplace has been asking for,” said Litton President and CEO Dave Morgan. “The landscape of television has been littered with failure recently and stations are happy to have an uplifting, ad-friendly series that is time-period-flexible and can work in a lot of places.”
Advice with a twist
The series will feature Ms. Rudner and a quartet of guests offering a comedic version of “Dear Abby.” Panel members will answer questions from advice-seeking viewers and give their own twisted takes on the subject. The series comes from Ms. Rudner’s production company Ritmar TV, with husband Martin Bergman on board as executive producer.
“Doing stand-up, I’m used to having a lot of freedom with my performance,” Ms. Rudner said. “We wanted to do something unique but without everyone wanting in on the development process. So we did it with our own money, and Litton came in enthusiastic about what we had to offer.”
Ms. Rudner said the Las Vegas venue (the half-hour strip will be taped at the MGM Grand) opens doors for a number of high-profile guests to participate in the series.
“No matter what, there is always a good mix of entertainers here and the audiences are always in a good mood,” she said. “There is obviously a lot of competition out there, but this is going to be a show that really can’t be found anywhere else. I like to say that I may not be as wise as Dr. Phil, but I promise you that I have more hair.”