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‘Suze’ Making Strides

Feb 21, 2005  •  Post A Comment

With the fanfare of the National Association of Television Program Executives convention over and done for more than four weeks, Twentieth Television’s talk strip “The Suze Orman Show” is one important step closer to a firm go for next season, while another high-profile 2005-06 hopeful, Sony Pictures Television’s “The Robin Quivers Show” has yet to announce any clearances.

Last week, spokeswomen for WCBS-TV in New York and KNBC-TV in Los Angeles confirmed “Suze” had been cleared on their stations for a fall 2005 launch.

“`The Suze Orman Show’ was always our first choice,” Lew Leone, president and general manager of Viacom-owned WCBS, said in a statement. “And Fox was able to make the deal work for us.” WCBS did not say when the show would run, but the station does have a 9 a.m. (ET) time slot available next season. Sources said a handful of Viacom-owned CBS stations are also picking up the strip. Twentieth Television declined to comment.

NBC Universal-owned KNBC is expected to run “Suze” at 4 p.m., between “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and local news. Sources said two other NBC Universal stations are also expected to announce “Suze” pickups.

Though Twentieth has not announced that “Suze” is a firm go, unlike its new court offering “Judge Alex,” industry insiders said clearances in the top two markets mean “Suze” is well on its way to a full pickup for fall 2005. The company’s revival of “A Current Affair” is slated to debut in syndication next month.

“Most importantly, it means it’s going forward,” said Bill Carroll, Katz Television Group VP and director of group programming, who suggested more clearances will be made public. “It also means given the scarcity of product in the marketplace as a whole, once the industry is assured it is going forward, there is a momentum that happens, and the rest of the way falls in place.”

But anyone expecting a rash of clearances within the next week may be disappointed. For nonmetered markets, in particular, any closed deals could be a month away.

“It may not be immediate,” Mr. Carroll said, noting that smaller markets might wait until they receive their February ratings book before making a decision.

Station groups are likely to face several decisions when it comes to scheduling their weekdays for next fall, considering the ratings for Sony’s “Pat Croce: Moving In” and “Life & Style,” Telepictures’ “The Larry Elder Show” and Twentieth’s “Texas Justice.” In addition, the already canceled “Home Delivery” is still airing in some markets and will have to be replaced in the fall.

“Only a couple of confirmed shows are coming back for next season,” Mr. Carroll said, pointing to Buena Vista’s “The Tony Danza Show” and the top-rated rookie strip of the season, Paramount’s “The Insider.”

The big question, despite its two-year deals, is still about the future of “The Jane Pauley Show,” which NBC Universal has been touting as strengthening since the beginning of 2005. With the launch of NBC Universal’s Martha Stewart strip, insiders have suggested that show’s targeted morning clearances would allow stations that ran “Pauley” in the afternoon to replace the strip with something bumped by “Martha” in the morning. NBC Universal had no comment.

Mr. Carroll said that with so much uncertainty around so many strips, “Suze” becomes much more attractive to stations.

“If I’m sitting there and I have three or four time periods that are opening up or likely to open up, it just means I have to pick up `Suze Orman,”‘ he said. “I can’t wait, and I’m not sure what else is coming down the pike.”

Another unanswered question coming out of NATPE is Sony’s “Robin Quivers,” which sources said could very well make it to fall 2005 based solely on a pickup from the Tribune Broadcasting Co.’s stations.

Mark Schacher, VP of programming for Tribune, was noncommittal when asked about his company’s interest in “Quivers,” on Jan. 28, just one day after the close of NATPE.

“As we do with all new projects, we’re conversing with Sony as we attempt to understand how they plan to develop this project,” he said. “And most importantly of all, what kind of show it will be at the end of the day.”

Mr. Schacher also confirmed speculation that Tribune is interested in acquiring new strips that would fit with its current daytime staples, NBC Universal’s “Maury” and “The Jerry Springer Show.”

“We’re interested in using our core daytime programs, [Maury] Povich and `Springer,’ as a platform to launch new daytime shows,” he said.

Sources said Sony was willing to adjust the tone of the show depending on what any potential station group wanted the show to be creatively. Sony declined to comment.