Sony breathes new life into ‘Ripley’s’ with syndie run

Dec 16, 2002  •  Post A Comment

After a successful strike at off-cable syndication with the debut of “Larry Sanders” this year, Sony is about to up the ante with the debut of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” next fall.
With 65 percent of the country now cleared for fall 2003, “Ripley’s” will enter syndication as a half-hour strip based on the 75 hours of programming that have already aired on TBS over the years. Among the top markets to come aboard are Los Angeles and Chicago, said John Weiser, executive VP at Sony Pictures Television.
“This is a show that stations are excited about,” Mr. Weiser said. “We are taking a proven commodity, the No. 1 show on TBS, as well as a proven brand around the world, and are able to freshen it up for stations. As a result we’re getting orders for double runs because this is a series that has already proven it brings in the right demographics.”
With a favorable stations barter split of 4 local/3 national, the series is being slotted in early fringe, late fringe and access on virtually all of its stations, Mr. Weiser said. Host Dean Cain will tape new wraparounds for the 150 episodes already in the can.
Because of Sony’s success in recent years with its cable pipeline, stations are already sniffing out potential other properties from the distributor for syndication, including FX’s “The Shield” and Lifetime’s “Strong Medicine.”
“As long as we have strong shows that work, the delivery system of these series will fall in line,” Mr. Weiser said. “We’ve seen that with both `Larry Sanders’ and now `Ripley’s Believe It or Not.’ Traditional means nothing in today’s world of repurposing, and we feel excited to be in this position.”
In addition, the company announced last week that court series “Judge Hatchett” has been renewed for a fourth season in 85 percent of the country including each of the top 10 markets. Among the stations renewing are WNYW-TV, New York; KTTV, Los Angeles; and WFLD-TV, Chicago.
“Glenda [Hatchett’s] innovative approach and her emphasis on family and juvenile cases set her apart from her TV court counterparts, and we look forward to a great fourth season,” said Russ Krasnoff, president, programming and production, Sony Pictures Television.