Ancier Touts The WB’s Value to Parent Time Warner

Jan 16, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The WB is close to finalizing its deal with the Tribune Broadcasting stations to continue distributing the network, WB Chairman Garth Ancier said Monday at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour.

“We are very, very far down the road with making a long-term deal with Tribune,” Mr. Ancier said. “We expect to have that done in the next few weeks.”

Despite the changes in the marketplace in terms of program distribution via the Internet and digital devices such as the iPod, the network is still a viable model for its parent company, Time Warner, Mr. Ancier said.

“It’s too important to not go forward,” he said.

Understanding how to incorporate iPods, watching content on cellphones and other emerging technologies are ongoing industry processes, Mr. Ancier said.

“All this is such uncharted territory and has come so fast,” Mr. Ancier said, noting that all of the networks are figuring out how to utilize new platforms and make money off them.

Despite its continuing popularity, Spelling Television’s “7th Heaven” is unlikely to be back next season. WB Entertainment President David Janollari called the show’s conclusion “bittersweet.”

“We want the show, we love the show,” Mr. Janollari said. “We were in extended, detailed conversations with Spelling, and we looked at each other and said ‘We can’t make this economically feasible.'”

This season “Heaven” lost the network $16 million, Mr. Ancier said, “and that was with a license fee reduction.”

The network also made some development and programming announcements:

  • The WB has bought a half-four, live-action pilot script from Ellen DeGeneres called “My Dog Sparky,” which looks at family life from the point of view of the family dog. Ms. DeGeneres, who is writing the script with her brother Vance, will voice the role of the dog.

  • Mr. Janollari said the network has given the go-ahead to a series that flips the format of “Beauty and The Geek.” In the new show, intelligent but socially awkward women will compete in teams with beautiful but intellectually challenged men. “We will be doing the reverse of ‘Beauty and The Geek’ shortly,” Mr. Janollari said.

  • For this summer, The WB is rolling out a new reality series, “Survival of the Richest,” from RDF Media and producer Stuart Krasnow. The six-episode “Richest” takes a group of seven heirs and heiresses and pairs them with seven working-class people with a combined debt of $150,000. The winning team will walk away with $200,000.

  • “Beauty and the Geek” producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg are about to go into production on the reality series “Fountain of Youth,” which pairs young adults with seniors and sends them on a cross-country trip from Florida to Las Vegas.