Syndie renewals crowd fall schedules

Dec 9, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The cloudy picture of syndication’s fall 2003 season got a shot of clarity this week as a number of shows learned their fates.
The lack of the increasingly precious real estate on many stations’ schedules wasn’t improved by a batch of renewals and pickups. “Martha Stewart Living” and “The John Walsh Show” were renewed by their distributors.
“The John Walsh Show” finished a successful November book as one of only two new strips to show growth in metered markets compared with the November 2001 sweeps period. Coming in second only to King World’s “Dr. Phil” in year-to-year time-period growth, “John Walsh” delivered a 21 percent hike overall for its stations and a 25 percent increase among NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates. NBC Enterprises subsequently renewed the strip on both its NBC owned-and-operated stations and the Hearst-Argyle stations for a second season.
“The NBC stations are pleased to provide our viewers with another season of `The John Walsh Show,”’ said Jay Ireland, NBC Television Stations president. “The show has performed very well for our stations, and we look forward to another successful year.”
In addition, NBC Enterprises announced it would be expanding its syndication roster with the addition of “Starting Over” with “Real World’s” Bunim/Murray Productions as a one-hour strip for next fall. The series will follow six diverse women as they start their lives over. The women will come from different parts of the country and reside together and either start fresh or return to their old lives. As each woman leaves the house a new woman will replace her.
“Bunim/Murray has an impressive track record for developing nonscripted series that are not only successful but tell compelling stories that generate a loyal following among viewers,” said Ed Wilson, president of NBC Enterprises.
Despite legal troubles for its host and rumors of its demise, King World’s “Martha Stewart Living” is now set to return for an 11th season, thanks to renewals in 70 percent of the country. Among the stations groups renewing are CBS, Belo, Scripps Howard, Gannett, Emmis and The New York Times. One question mark remaining for the series will be the time slot. King World’s “Living It Up With Jack & Ali” has cleared many of the same stations and had been rumored to take over “Stewart’s” old time slots.
Meanwhile, Litton announced some key deals for its Jan. 27 launch of talk show “Ask Rita.” In addition to several ABC stations, the new Rita Rudner strip has been cleared in the top 20 markets, including deals with Gannett-owned stations in Atlanta (WXIA-TV) and Phoenix (KPNX-TV). In addition, the series has landed on San Francisco and Orlando, Fla., Cox stations as well as at XETV in San Diego and KVBC-TV in Las Vegas.
Suffering a blow was Twentieth Television’s “The Rob Nelson Show.” Staff members at the struggling rookie strip were informed they are being let go while the series remains on hiatus, sources said. That move could finalize the freshman talk show’s demise, since the series has been averaging a 1.0 rating so far this season. One former crew member said the crew was told the series would not be back from its hiatus. However, a spokesperson at Twentieth Television said the strip is still being evaluated and no decision has been made on its future.