Merv Griffin thinks he has found his next Alex Trebek.
The prolific game show producer has tapped Ty Treadway to host the upcoming “Let’s Play Crosswords,” which launches Sept. 10. Series distributor Program Partners and Merv Griffin Entertainment have cleared the series in 30 of the top 40 markets, and they expect the former soap opera and talk show star to bring a long-term excitement and stability to the show.
“We have tremendous faith in Merv, who has demonstrated a tremendous eye for talent, finding television pillars such as `Jeopardy’s’ Alex Trebek and `Wheel of Fortune’s’ Pat Sajak,” said Josh Raphaelson, co-founder of Program Partners. “He has a knack for building great teams, and we as a distributor are over the moon with the great assembly of talent he’s put together for this show.”
Mr. Treadway is best known for playing Dr. Colin MacIver on “One Life to Live” and as co-hosts with Lisa Rinna of SoapNet’s lifestyle talk show “Soap Talk.”
“Ty exudes the kind of energy that will keep audiences engaged and excited. We are looking toward a long and successful association,” Mr. Griffin said.
Mr. Raphaelson said the series will tape in Los Angeles, after briefly flirting with the idea of taping the show at WMAQ’s production facilities in Chicago.
“It was a wrenching decision and WMAQ’s facilities are terrific, but in the end it came down to convenience,” he said. “Merv is very involved right now in the game electronics, which are being produced here in Los Angeles. In fact, we’re making an investment in game electronics that has not been seen in this business before. He wanted to be closer to the manufacturers of the equipment, which has to display clues, tumbling letters and answers in just the right way for both contestants and audiences.”
Raymond J. Brune and Andrew Yani, co-heads of TV for Merv Griffin Entertainment, will oversee the half-hour syndicated strip with Mr. Griffin. Brennan Huntington has been tapped as showrunner and Robert W. Rang will design the set. Emmy Award winner Tony Garofalo will be the consulting producer.
Mr. Raphaelson said stations already are showing faith in the potential of the show, with many markets plugging “Crosswords” into the 4 p.m. time slot “because they are very confident of the ability of this series, too.”
NBC Universal will handle ad sales for the strip and already is talking with advertisers about becoming part of the show.
“There is so much we are able to offer advertisers with a property like this,” said Bo Argentino, senior VP of advertising and media sales for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. “This is the type of series where sponsors can become part of the show, whether it’s as simple as a sponsored segment or far-reaching across multiple platforms. Game shows can offer a terrific return on investment, and this is no different.”