Syndicators jockey for next talker hit

Nov 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sharon Osbourne’s jump into the ranks of potential syndication players for 2003 caps a wild season of development for distributors.
NBC Enterprises continues to be an aggressive player in the development tug-of-war. The studio is readying “Let’s Make a Deal” for a possible network run later this season, sources said.
Much like what happened with NBC’s “Weakest Link,” the game show would then be quickly turned around for a fall syndication run, several insiders said. One analyst said that “Deal” appeared to be the distributor’s “one lock” for the new year but also said, “The way [NBC Enterprises President] Ed Wilson operates, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see another strip enter the market in tandem.”
In addition, NBC Enterprises is mulling a project with Glamour magazine and a vehicle for “Court TV” anchor Nancy Grace.
Telepictures scored the biggest coup of last week by signing Ms. Osbourne-star of MTV’s “The Osbournes”-to a talk show deal for fall 2003. As first reported on EMOnline.com (Nov. 7), the wife of rock star Ozzy Osbourne would host a single-topic strip. She joins Ellen DeGeneres, Ben Stein and Larry Elder as potential Telepictures projects for next season. Sources said the company has been actively trying to sell Ms. DeGeneres’ show and could easily have two of the four talk shows ready in time for the fall.
Ms. Osbourne told ABC’s Barbara Walters during a “20/20” special last week that she wouldn’t invite cameras into her home for MTV’s top-rated series “The Osbournes” if she had to do it all over again. The interview helped “20/20” score an audience of 15.35 million viewers and earned ABC its top rating since May 2000 among adults 18 to 49 for the newsmagazine.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and a Telepictures’ spokesman would not comment on the agreement.

Twentieth will move forward with two projects it has been testing in recent months, “Good Day Live” and “Ex-treme Dating.” Sources close to the shows confirmed “Good Day Live’s” national January launch is “on track,” while “Ex-treme Dating” could go national as early as this June if its numbers in the November book hold up.
The early run on television sales in the summer of 2001 clearly did not hold up in summer 2002. So far only King World has announced a “firm go” for a fall 2003 project as “Living It Up! With Ali & Jack” has now been cleared in 60 percent of the country. The one-hour daytime strip has pinned down stations in New York (WCBS-TV), Los Angeles (KCBS-TV) and Chicago (WBBM-TV), thanks to a group deal with CBS and clearances with some stations in the Hearst Argyle, Scripps Howard, Post Newsweek, New York Times Broadcasting, Gannett, Belo and Jefferson Pilot groups. The series will be hosted by Ali Wentworth and Jack Ford and has now laid claim to 18 of the top 20 markets.

“Station response to `Living it Up! with Ali & Jack’ has been tremendous, and we are thrilled to give it a firm go for fall 2003,” said Roger King, CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World Productions. “Focus groups love Ali and Jack and the interaction between them, and we’re confident that we’re going to be delivering the next big hit in daytime television.”
Other series that look fairly solid to get out of the gate come fall include Buena Vista’s talk show project with Bob Saget, Sony’s “eBay TV,” Universal’s talk show with Sarah Ferguson, Litton’s Rita Rudner project and Tribune’s action hour with Chuck Norris.