Universal Takes Aim at Daytime

Oct 20, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Universal Domestic Television hopes to have a profound effect on the daytime lifestyle with separate projects in the works from Jennifer Lopez and “Trading Spaces”’ Denise Cramsey.
Ms. Lopez has confirmed that she will executive produce a daytime ensemble series co-hosted by her sister Lynda Lopez. The program is designed to be a daytime staple covering the latest on pop culture, lifestyle, celebrities and fashion.
The distributor also is developing a lifestyle show insiders call a combination of “Dr. Phil” and “Trading Spaces,” from producer Ms. Cramsey.
J.Lo’s daily one-hour first-run daytime project will be produced through her production company, Nuyorican. It will target younger women and likely will be launched in fall 2004. Nuyorican’s Julio Caro will also produce.
“At Nuyorican, our goal from the onset was to produce good, quality material that would appeal to a broad audience,” Ms. Lopez said. “A talk show hosted by a group of smart women with diverse opinions and varied interests is tremendously exciting. We are going to have a lot of fun.”
Lynda Lopez was believed to be working on a show with Universal for several months (TVWeek, July 28). Universal executives have now confirmed that the proposed series would feature Lynda Lopez joining three other women for the day-and-date program. In addition, according to insiders, Jennifer Lopez is hoping to make appearances on the show, depending on her schedule.
“This show will be a natural extension of the dynamic brand created by Jennifer Lopez,” said Lisa Hackner, executive VP of programming and development at Universal. “It will convey the same sense of enthusiasm, humor, determination and smarts that took Jennifer to the top of the entertainment world. This show will really reflect the opinions, experiences and attitudes of younger women, something that is missing from the marketplace today.”
Lynda Lopez recently signed a deal to be a features correspondent for WCBS-TV, New York, covering topics including fashion, celebrity news and pop culture trends. She continues to serve as an entertainment reporter for “E! News Live.” She was previously the entertainment reporter at WNBC, New York, filing reports for NBC- and Telemundo-owned stations around the country and for NBC’s cable networks.
Ms. Cramsey’s series stems from an overall development deal with the “Trading Spaces” producer signed in June, in which she was tapped to produce lifestyle shows for first-run syndication, network prime time and cable.
“The type of lifestyle series popularized by `Trading Spaces’ has been limited to the basic cable universe-until now. With this development deal, we have a significant opportunity to take this genre to a much wider audience with shows in network prime time and first-run broadcast syndication,” she said. “It is an amazing opportunity, and I’ m very excited to be in business with Universal.”
Less than a year after Ms. Cramsey took over as executive producer of TLC’s “Trading Spaces” in May 2001, the show, originally a British format, broke through with American viewers, earning popular and critical acclaim while finding a home in the nation’s pop culture vernacular.
No distribution deals have been made for either of the syndie projects Universal is developing. Universal’s merger with NBC could potentially open some doors for the shows to land on the NBC O&Os. However, sources close to the project said one or both of the shows could end up heading to the Tribune stations in the fall of 2004 as part of an agreement between Universal and Tribune to create a first-run strip to air in national syndication. The show, to be co-developed and co-produced by Universal and Tribune Entertainment, would be cleared on Tribune’s television stations. UTE will handle station sales, and Tribune Entertainment will be responsible for advertising sales.