Syndicated Strip Showrunners: Ed Glavin

Dec 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Executive producer of “The Larry Elder Show” said he hasn’t slept in a production office in years-but that’s not to say it isn’t getting “harder to launch a syndicated show every year.”

Among Mr. Glavin’s growing concerns this season: Securing a desirable time-period lineup, maintaining the interests of both stations and viewers and finding the right staff.

Nowadays most major station groups are aligned with a syndicator, so a company like “Elder” distributor Warner Bros.-which doesn’t own stations-usually has to compete with stations’ in-house syndication units to get the best time slots. “Elder’s” launch group includes Viacom’s major-market CBS owned-and-operated stations, which generally are not the top stations in their markets.

While clearing the program isn’t in Mr. Glavin’s job description, it matters to him. Instant exposure comes most naturally to shows that start out in highly viewed time periods on top stations simply because viewers have a habit of watching those channels at those times. That kind of immediate momentum is especially important for a show like “Elder,” whose star is accomplished but not as instantly recognizable as are those of some of the other freshman strips.

“People throughout the country don’t always know who [Larry Elder] is,” Mr. Glavin said. “Jane Pauley has tremendous awareness, but [“The Jane Pauley Show” has] struggled. And we don’t have that.”

Adding to the angst of the launch process is the fact that the general patience of stations is wearing thinner by the season, Mr. Glavin said. “They want shows to come out of the gate and work,” he said.

Still, if anyone scrutinizes ratings, it’s Mr. Glavin. Whether the show needs tweaking in the back-end or the first three segments are too long, “All that stuff you can learn from the viewers because if they don’t like it they tune out.”

“I’ve always looked at the numbers every day,” he said.

Mr. Glavin said he was worried at first about staffing “Elder,” which employs about 95 people, in part because many producers from his generation in the talk show ranks have left the business to pursue the prime-time reality boom. Mr. Glavin started interviewing people for “Elder” on a daily basis for three months while he was still showrunning “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“Elder” is an hourlong, Monday-to-Friday multitopic talk show showcasing the distinctive point of view of national radio host and former “Moral Court” host Larry Elder. During the launch phase of the Los Angeles-based show, the staff was called on to do “a lot of digging and scrambling and research” to come up with guests and issues for the series, Mr. Glavin said. The selection process apparently paid off. “We’ve had little turnover or drama at our show,” he said. “I’m grateful and feel proud of it.”

As for why Mr. Glavin does not tune out of the business that’s only getting tougher: “I made my life doing daytime talk,” he said. “Now that I’ve gotten good at it, why bail on it?”