‘Texas Reporter’ to go national

Dec 2, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The eyes of Texas soon will be joined by those of the national TV audience, if a prominent cable programming distribution company has bet right.
Cable Ready, the 10-year-old distribution company that reps producers and program libraries and specializes in selling to cable networks, has reached a one-year deal to create a national version of “Texas Country Reporter,” a Texas television institution that has aired in the state since 1972.
“TCR,” hosted and executive produced by Bob Phillips, is a Charles Kuralt-style interview/profile/travelogue magazine show that specializes in vignettes about everyday folks who live along the backroads of the Lone Star state. Mr. Phillips has been with it since the beginning, starting out as a cameraman on the original Dallas-Fort Worth version of the show.
The “TCR”-based show that Cable Ready will be taking to cable networks such as the Hallmark Channel, Travel Channel and Discovery in advance of the next National Association of Television Program Executives convention will be a weekly magazine called “American Backroads,” but the segments and the host will be from “TCR.”
What Cable Ready is looking for is a 26-episode cash deal, said Gary Lico, the sales veteran who founded and heads Cable Ready.
Of course, there are hundreds of episodes in the “TCR” library, Mr. Lico said, and host Bob Phillips is available to reconfigure them and do new wraps.
The pitch will be how “cost-effective” this show is for any network, Mr. Lico said. “There’s something about people from Texas. It’s like people from New York or people from New Orleans. There’s always a story there.” Mr. Phillips says he gets upward of 10,000 letters a year from viewers suggesting stories.
Currently, “TCR” airs on 21 stations around the state, among them the following Belo Corp. stations: WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth; KHOU-TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston; KENS-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Antonio; and KVUE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Austin. Lamco Communications’ KTXS-TV, the ABC station in Abilene, also carries “TCR.”
Among Cable Ready’s other shows are “The Actors Studio” on Bravo, “Medical Detectives” on TLC and “The Directors” on Encore. When the company makes a library deal it expects to make a sale, Mr. Lico said, but one series the company reps that hasn’t been picked up yet, even in this age of targeted cable networks and niche audiences, is a 13-half-hour series from Australia on the subject of bonsai trees.