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NATPE 2003 shaping up as a star-studded affair

Dec 30, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The National Association of Television Program Executives convention may be in the midst of an evolutionary change but its anchor syndicators are intent to leave New Orleans with a bang.
Not only has a late selling season prompted speculation that a number of deals may be completed at the market, now key exhibitors are confirming that the celebrities and parties that once made the annual gathering a star-studded event will once again grace the bars and hotels of New Orleans.
Participants can expect to get a taste of some British royalty, rock royalty and the king of talk shows, with a splash of “Hollywood” and a “Good Day” mixed in for good measure.
As competition heats up for the remaining time slots on local stations, distributors are bringing back the celebrity faces enjoyed by scores of station general managers and program directors over the years. Last year cost-cutting moves shifted distributors to hotel rooms in Las Vegas, which left NATPE attendees face-to-face with the likes of wrestlers and local chefs in lieu of the usual daytime queens and all-star sitcom casts. In addition, parties were toned down in favor personal dinners and golf outings.
Once again, times appear to have changed, at least for three days in January. Both rookies and veterans will make their way to the Big Easy for the clash of the syndication titans, with at least two shows broadcasting live from the city. On the party front, King World once again brings musical talent to the event, with Glenn Frey headlining a party at Generations Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 21. NBC and Universal are planning to hold their soirees the following evening.
On the talent front, King World will bring rookie phenomenon Dr. Phil to meet key station and advertising executives. In addition, two upcoming hosts, Ali Wentworth and Jack Ford from “Living it Up With Ali & Jack” will be on hand, hoping to become next year’s home run series.
NBC Enterprises will bring the crew of “Access Hollywood” to NATPE along with talk show hosts John Walsh and Chris Matthews. In anticipation of next fall’s launch of “Starting Over” on the NBC station group, the distributor will bring producers Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray of Bunim/Murray Productions. Slated for national launch in fall 2003 on stations including the NBC owned-and-operated stations, “Starting Over” will follow six women who want to start their lives over and who reside together while they come to terms with their problems.
“It’s exciting to work on a show that will not only be entertaining but will actually improve the lives of the women participating,” Ms. Bunim said.
Twentieth Television plans to broadcast “Good Day Live”-which launches nationally in January-from New Orleans with co-hosts Steve Edwards, Dorothy Lucey and Jillian Barberie all on hand. In addition, Ms. Barberie will represent upcoming relationship strip “Ex-treme Dating,” which is expected to go national in summer 2003.
In addition to its NATPE bash, Universal will bring the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, to represent her upcoming talk show “Fergie.” The strip, set to debut in the fall, joins “Maury,” “Blind Date,” “Fifth Wheel” and “Jerry Springer” as Universal’s offerings at the market.
Telepictures will bring its own versions of royalty to the confab with both Sharon Osbourne and Ellen DeGeneres expected to attend on behalf of their prospective fall talk shows. The announcements of both series caused a stir earlier in the year and industry pundits are eager to see which stations sign on, since both shows have been the topic of heated rumors in recent weeks.
As for political royalty, NATPE itself will provide the entertainment. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., will receive NATPE’s Chairman’s Award during the conference.
NATPE will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from Jan. 20 to 23.