Program Partners Teams With Merv Griffin, William Morris

Jan 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Syndication company Program Partners not only teamed up with legendary producer Merv Griffin to bring upcoming game show “Let’s Play Crosswords” to stations, it nabbed the William Morris Agency as a co-financier of the project.

Facing an uphill battle to develop and distribute syndicated shows in an environment dominated by big, consolidated studios, Program Partners co-founders Ritch Colbert and Josh Raphaelson opted to alter the traditional business model in order to level the playing field.

The series is being offered to stations on an all-cash basis with Program Partners, Merv Griffin Entertainment and WMA all serving as partners in the project.

“With the way we’ve developed this show, we will be able to launch ‘Crosswords’ in medium and large markets without having to rely on a New York or Los Angeles clearance,” said Mr. Raphaelson. “Under the old model, it would have been too expensive for a company of our size to get a show of this magnitude launched. Because of that, stations would have to wait for the studios to tell them what to do. Now all that has changed.”

“Let’s Play Crosswords” will stick to a classic game show format with a beginning, middle and end game, followed by a bonus round. Players must answer questions with words that solve a crossword to win. The series will be produced for syndication in high-definition.

“William Morris has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Merv,” said Mark Itkin, worldwide co-head of television at the William Morris Agency. “We are honored to be working with him on this exciting new venture.”

Mr. Griffin, who has created game shows including “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” met with stations at a private presentation on Sunday to showcase highlights from the program.

“I’ve been working on this concept for a while,” Mr. Griffin said. “I hope that audiences have as much fun watching it as I have had in creating it. I’m addicted to solving crosswords myself and do four of them each morning before starting my day. By combining the basics of the puzzles with a game-show format, I think we’ve got something that will be just as addictive.”

“We are especially proud and excited to work with Merv Griffin, the legendary master of the game,” said Ritch Colbert, co-founder of Program Partners. “What ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is to the childhood game Hangman, ‘Let’s Play Crosswords’ is to the classic crossword puzzle. This game will be accessible to everyone.”

(Editor: Baumann)