‘ET’ spinoff ‘Insider’ getting a jump on 2004

Jan 13, 2003  •  Post A Comment

While syndicators such as Warner Bros., Twentieth Television and Buena Vista Television are solidifying their 2003 lineups, Paramount has already got a jump on 2004 with “The Insider,” its “Entertainment Tonight” spinoff.
Paramount Domestic Distribution has now sold the future strip to the CBS owned-and-operated stations, putting the strip, which is 21 months from launch, in seven of the top 10 markets. Among the key stations are WCBS-TV in New York, KCBS-TV in Los Angeles and KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
The distributor has also completed deals with stations in the McGraw-Hill, Hubbard, Midwest Television, Capital Broadcasting and Sinclair station groups.
The series is designed to report entertainment news from a unique “insider” perspective, using first-person interviews, special access and “behind closed doors” reports.
“I think that the CBS stations carrying `Entertainment Tonight’ have really been suffering with the difficulty of not having the right companion to the news and `ET,”’ said John Nogawski, president of Paramount Domestic Television. “We as a producer would like nothing more next to our franchise than a tailor-made program with 21 months to germinate so we can hit the ground running.”
A known entity
“The Insider” would join such successful “ET” spinoffs as “ET on MTV,” “ET on VH1” and weekly syndicated series “Hot Ticket” as brand-extensions of the Paramount franchise. “The Insider” has been a popular segment on the series for more than a year now, so the opportunity to expand a known piece of the strip to complement “ET” was too good to pass up, Mr. Nogawski said.
“Now that the CBS O&O’s have committed to `The Insider,’ all three major affiliate O&O’s have completed their access lineup for the long term,” he said. “This provides us the rare opportunity to thoroughly develop the series for the next 21 months. `The Insider’ … segment on `Entertainment Tonight’ will serve as the perfect development platform, much like the experience we had with Dr. Phil on `The Oprah Winfrey Show.”’
He said that no host has been chosen yet and that the company will draw from some of the `ET’ staff to bring the show to the air.
The deal raises questions about the future of two other series in the access time slot. One is sister company King World’s “Hollywood Squares,” which has the post-“ET” slot in some markets (including New York) and whose contract with the CBS stations expires at the end of the 2003 season. The other is Buena Vista’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which airs this season on some of those key access time periods in markets including Los Angeles. In addition, King World’s “Inside Edition” has been rumored to be eyeing those time slots.
Of any difficulty with King World, Mr. Nogawski said that “The Insider” deal was approved with King World before completion with the O&Os.
“We had a lot of internal conversations, and frankly, we would not have done this show if it was not discussed beforehand with the people at King World,” he said. “We all agreed that this show was the right thing to do so there were no surprises and everybody was aware of what was going on.”
A King World spokesman downplayed any threat to “Hollywood Squares”’ future beyond the 2003 season, noting, “We are very happy with the progress of the show,” after cast and producer changes over the summer.
While Paramount has been busy with 2004, other syndicators made key clearances for 2003-04. Telepictures’ “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and Warner Bros.’ “The Sharon Osbourne Show” solidified their launch status last week, while additional deals for Twenitieth Television’s “Ex-treme Dating” and Buena Vista’s “The Wayne Brady Show” set those series for a national launch later in the year.
With vertical integration making it more difficult for outsiders to get in the ballgame with first-run product, Telepictures President Jim Paratoresaid, it was a relief to pin down key clearances for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on the NBC station group and “The Sharon Osbourne Show” on Tribune O&Os. The sale of “Ellen DeGeneres” to the NBC group represents a clearance of more than 30 percent of the country, including WNBC-TV in New York and KNBC-TV in Los Angeles.
As for Ms. Osbourne, the group sale of her upcoming strip to the Tribune group provides coverage of more the 40 percent for the show, including WPIX-TV in New York and KTLA-TV in Los Angeles as well as superstation WGN-TV in Chicago.
Twentieth Television has confirmed that relationship strip “Ex-treme Dating” will launch nationally in June and now boasts a clearance level of 32 percent for the Jillian Barberie-hosted series. Joining the 12 markets that currently air the show will be Fox stations in Dallas, Tampa, Fla.,, Cleveland, Salt Lake City and Greensboro, N.C.
Buena Vista Television announced last week the addition of key stations committed to airing “The Wayne Brady Show,” as the strip prepares for a national rollout in September 2003.
With the newly signed stations and as well as renewals from its slow rollout earlier in the year, the show has cleared more than 50 percent of the country heading into its second season.
In addition to the ABC O&Os, Hearst-Argyle with WCVB-TV (Boston) and WESH-TV (Orlando), Scripps Howard Broadcasting with WXYZ-TV (Detroit) and WFTS-TV (Tampa), Sinclair Broadcasting with WSYX-TV (Columbus, Ohio) and WLOS (Greenville, S.C.-Asheville, N.C.), and Journal Broadcasting with WTMJ-TV (Milwaukee) have agreed to air the show.