Quivers Eyes Syndie Strip Sans Stern

Nov 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Robin Quivers, sidekick to radio shock jock Howard Stern for more than two decades, is entering the daytime marketplace with the help of Sony Pictures Television.

Ms. Quivers and Sony are developing a New York-based syndicated strip with an eye toward a fall 2005 debut, the company confirmed.

Considered one of the most popular female radio personalities in the country, Ms. Quivers has worked with Howard Stern since his days as a local talk radio host in Washington. She is regularly showcased on Mr. Stern’s cable telecast of his radio show on E!, and portrayed herself in the movie “Private Parts.” She also was on Mr. Stern’s late-night syndicated show more than a decade ago.

Ms. Quivers is not expected to give up the radio gig with Mr. Stern, who recently announced plans to move his show from Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting to Sirius Satellite Radio after his Infinity deal expires next year.

Melanie Chilek, senior VP, development and syndicated programming for Sony Pictures Television, said Ms. Quivers’ notoriety and experience doing a daily show makes her an attractive talent for the syndicator.

“So many times in our business we look for a personality that’s known, because the hope is viewers will connect to that name or brand,” Ms. Chilek said. “But oftentimes it’s a name that doesn’t really have the skills to run a show or the discipline for the enormous amount of work that’s required.”

Ms. Chilek was quick to point out that Ms. Quivers will not do a facsimile of Mr. Stern’s male-skewing show, which is known for its outrageous and sometimes bawdy sophomoric stunts. She dismissed concerns that daytime television viewers would avoid Ms. Quivers because of her radio persona.

“I’m sure there will be people that have that initial reaction,” she said, “but it is our job to show people she is more than what she is on the Howard Stern show, because that’s what we’re interested in.”

A former intensive care and pediatric nurse, Ms. Quivers began her broadcasting career in 1980 as a radio reporter. Ms. Chilek said Sony has some specific ideas, but that the studio wants to develop collaboratively with Ms. Quivers.

“It’s more talk than anything,” Ms. Chilek said of the project. “She knows how to interview people. She wants to do a show that speaks honestly to women. We’re aiming for daytime, and we’re aiming toward women. And beyond that we have a lot of very interesting ideas, and as is our process, it is very organic. I don’t think we’re looking to do something that has been done before.”

Sony and Ms. Quivers have yet to shoot a pilot, and the syndicator has had only preliminary conversations about the project in the marketplace, Ms. Chilek said.

Ms. Quivers’ project is a contrast to the spate of lifestyle- and fashion-themed talk projects that could make their way to air in fall 2005. Ms. Chilek said Ms. Quivers stands out from other names already mentioned as potential syndicated hosts, such as Vera Wang, Isaac Mizrahi and Tyra Banks.

“Look at the difference,” she said. “Two wonderfully respected fashion designers and one model. Need I point out the difference between them and a credentialed person who has been in broadcasting for 20 years?”

Ms. Quivers’ crack at syndicated television marks one of many attempts over the years to translate radio stars to television. The radio-to-TV moves often have met with failure, one glaring example being Paramount’s failed series with Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

The most recent radio personality to enter daily television syndication is Larry Elder, who headlines a freshman syndicated effort from Telepictures this season. He hosted the former Telepictures strip “Moral Court” before this year’s “The Larry Elder Show,” but was known largely for his national radio show before heading into TV.

Ms. Chilek declined to say whether Sony is planning to bring Ms. Quivers to the National Association of Television Program Executives conference or what exactly the syndicator has in mind to promote its latest project.

“We’re prepared to do a variety of things, but we want the process to unfold naturally,” she said. “I’m really concerned at this moment about taking care of the show, because that’s what you have to start with.”