‘Ray,’ ‘Mullally’ Collecting O&Os

Dec 5, 2005  •  Post A Comment

As 2005 draws to a close, distributors of new syndicated content are laying out clearances for the upcoming fall 2006 first-run fare.

While court strips have been enjoying a renewed interest in the marketplace, new talk projects are also moving forward, with King World Productions giving the official greenlight to its first talk strip in three seasons.

The sale of King World’s strip, which stars Food Network personality and author Rachael Ray, raises the question of whether Buena Vista’s second-year talk strip “The Tony Danza Show” will be back for fall 2006, since Ms. Ray’s show is forcing “Danza” off some important stations in the top 10 markets.

King World, however, is not the only syndicator clearing a new talk strip. NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has cleared “The Megan Mullally Show” in what the distributor described as “several dozen” markets. The show has already been sold to a number of NBC O&Os.

Ms. Ray’s strip has been cleared in 70 percent of the country for a fall 2006 debut, according to Roger King, CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World.

The series has been cleared in all top 25 markets and 46 of the top 50, including the ABC owned-and-operated stations in New York and Philadelphia; the CBS O&Os in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Denver; and two Fox O&Os.

The deals with the two top five ABC stations present a challenge for “Danza,” which last season had trouble finding daytime clearances on the fully programmed ABC O&Os. “Danza” was being shopped to other stations in markets where it is being bumped, Buena Vista said in a statement. “We are fully committed to ‘The Tony Danza Show’ for the 2006-07 season,” the statement said.

Ms. Ray’s show, which is being produced by King World, Scripps Networks, Watch Entertainment and talk show host Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, will be in development for six months before it airs, Mr. King said.

Terry Wood, president of creative affairs and development for King World Productions and Paramount Domestic Television, will spearhead the show’s development and production.