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25 Years of Syndie Landmarks

May 21, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Access Hollywood

Aired: 1996-present

Stars: Nancy O’Dell, Billy Bush, Tony Potts, Maria Menounos, Pat O’Brien

Synopsis: Daily news show about the world of show business.

Impact:: Like “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood” offers the latest news about celebrities and stars. The show thrives on covering major events such as awards shows, where it can go behind the scenes and offer interviews with the honorees.

The Arsenio Hall Show

Aired: 1989-1994

Star: Arsenio Hall

Synopsis: Los Angeles-based late-night talk show starring comedian-actor Arsenio Hall and a variety of celebrity guests.

Impact:: Veering from the traditional talk show format, “The Arsenio Hall Show” was hipper and more in tune with a younger demographic. Mr. Hall invited audience participation, giving the show almost a Greek chorus. The show was the ultimate cool destination for guests, including Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton when he was running for president. He chatted Arsenio and played the saxophone, connecting with viewers in a way that many believe helped his campaign.

Baywatch

Aired: 1991-2001

Stars: David Hasselhoff, Michael Newman, Pamela Anderson, Yasmine Bleeth, Alexandra Paul, Parker Stevenson, Erika Eleniak, Carmen Electra, David Charvet, Donna D’Errico, Gena Lee Nolin

Synopsis: The adventures of the lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles County.

Impact:: “Baywatch” began on NBC in 1989 but was canceled after just one season because the ratings were low and the production costs were high. Series star David Hasselhoff believed the show had viability. He invested in the show, became executive producer and moved it to first-run syndication. “Baywatch” was an immediate hit, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Some labeled it “jiggle TV” or “Babewatch,” but audiences didn’t seem to mind the hard-bodied males and big-breasted women. The show’s success opened the door for other dramas to go directly to the syndication market.

Blind Date

Aired: 1999-2006

Stars: Roger Lodge, Ava Cadell

Synopsis: Male and female applicants provide videos about what they want in a partner, then are sent on blind dates arranged by the show’s producers. Hidden cameras accompany the couple on their date, with comments in the form of “thought balloons” added in post-production.

Impact:: The premise for “Blind Date” was similar to other game shows, but by blending reality TV elements with the innovation of post-date thoughts, “Blind Date” separated itself from the crowd. The show didn’t try to create true love matches; it was all about making viewers chuckle.

A Current Affair

Aired: 1986-1996

Stars: Maury Povich, Maureen O’Boyle, Jeanne Wolf, Nancy O’Dell

Synopsis: Daily show about the hot-button topics of the time, including scandals, high-profile trials, cults and the like.

Impact:: “A Current Affair” was the first syndicated pseudo-news show that blurred the lines between information and entertainment, skirting the tenets of journalism in favor of tabloid TV. Similar celebrity-driven news programs have followed in its wake, but “A Current Affair” is regarded as the prime mover of this trend.

Dr. Phil

Aired: 2002-present

Stars: Phil McGraw, Robin McGraw

Synopsis: Dr. Phil, a clinical psychologist, offers advice and counsel to guests on a variety of issues and problems. His wife, Robin, appears on occasion to add her opinions.

Impact:: Originally, Dr. Phil was a featured regular on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He was so good at dispensing advice that Ms. Winfrey decided he should have his own show. Her Harpo Productions produces “Dr. Phil,” and his down-home style and life strategies have made the show one of the biggest syndication successes in recent years.

Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Aired: 2003-present

Stars: Ellen DeGeneres, Tony Okungbowa, Jon Abraham

Synopsis: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres hosts this daytime talk show, telling jokes, dancing with audience members and interviewing stars and regular people alike.

Impact:: “Ellen” has been a ratings success and an award winner since its debut in 2003. In contrast to other daytime talk shows, Ms. DeGeneres veers from dispensing advice or discussing issues. Her aim is pure entertainment, and her show delivers.

Fame

Aired: 1982-1987

Stars: Debbie Allen, Gene Anthony Ray, Valerie Landsburg, Carlo Imperato, Lee Curreri, Albert Hague, Lori Singer

Synopsis: The lives and aspirations of the students attending the High School of the Performing Arts in contemporary New York City, including musical numbers.

Impact:: “Fame” started as a feature film in 1980, then became a TV series that aired on NBC. When the show failed to garner high ratings, NBC canceled it. MGM moved the show to first-run syndication, where “Fame” found new life, running for four more years. Stars from the show also performed live concerts featuring music from the show.

It’s Showtime at the Apollo

Aired: 1987-present

Stars: Rick Aviles, Steve Harvey, Mark Curry, Kiki Shepard, Rudy Rush, Sinbad, Whoopi Goldberg, Mo’nique

Synopsis: Musical entertainment show originating from the stage of the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Impact:: Musical variety shows had disappeared from network television by the 1980s, but one thrived in syndication: “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” The show blends professional acts with amateurs trying to make it in show business.

Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures

Aired: 1992-present

Star: Jack Hanna

Synopsis: Naturalist and adventurer Jack Hanna explores the world of exotic and unusual animals, taking viewers to the places they live.

Impact:: After appearing as a guest on countless shows, including “Good Morning America” and “The Late Show With David Letterman,” animal expert Jack Hanna created his own syndicated show to educate about animals in their environments. The show is seen in 95 percent of all U.S. homes each weekend and appears in 60 countries around the world.

Jeopardy!

Aired: 1984-present

Star: Alex Trebek

Synopsis: Challenging game show in which three contestants vie to win money by supplying the correct question to answers in six categories. After a second round of more difficult answers, the players compete on a final question. The top scorer gets to keep the money he or she has won and return to play again.

Impact:: “Jeopardy!” began on NBC as a daytime game show, running from 1964-1975. Creator Merv Griffin resurrected the show for syndication in 1984, enlisting Alex Trebek as host. The quiz show quickly emerged as a success and led to other games entering syndication, including Mr. Griffin’s less difficult but equally popular “Wheel of Fortune.” “Jeopardy!” has won 27 Emmys, more than any other show in the genre.

Jenny Jones

Aired: 1991-2003

Star: Jenny Jones

Synopsis: Talk show about the hot topics and current trends in society starring former “Star Search” winner Jenny Jones.

Impact:: Jenny Jones was an attractive, pleasant talk show host whose show was generally interesting if not compelling viewing. Unlike “The Jerry Springer Show,” nobody threw chairs or threatened another guest. However, in 1995, Jenny Jones presented a show called “Same Sex Secret Crushes” that led to the surprised guest later killing the man who had a crush on him. The TV show was eventually ordered to pay $25 million in damages to the victim’s family. Although that ruling was later overturned, Ms. Jones’ reputation was tainted and the show shuttered soon after.

The Jerry Springer Show

Aired: 1991-present

Stars: Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos

Synopsis: Daytime talk show st
arring former Cincinnati Mayor Jerry Springer that specializes in aggressive guests and controversial subjects. Conversations tend to get heated and violence occasionally erupts.

Impact:: “The Jerry Springer Show” began as a follow-up to “The Phil Donahue Show,” but quickly morphed into a talk show that specializes in the sensational, with guests who are passionate and sometimes violent. More than any other talk show, “Springer” is outrageous. Mr. Springer instigates the action and the studio audience feeds off the antics. The success of the show has been undeniable both in longevity and Nielsen numbers.

Judge Judy

Aired: 1996-present

Stars: Judith Sheindlin, Petri Hawkins-Byrd

Synopsis: Real-life small-claims legal disputes are presented before retired Judge Judith Sheindlin in a courtroom setting. She listens to both sides, interviews the subjects and delivers a verdict.

Impact:: In the tradition of “The People’s Court,” “Judge Judy” brings minor legal issues to television, allowing the tough, no-nonsense, sharp-tongued jurist to render her decision. It’s Judge Sheindlin’s style that makes the show a success. She’s acerbic and tart, with a personality that jumps off the TV screen.

Live With Regis & Kelly/Live With Regis & Kathie Lee

Aired: 1989-present

Stars: Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, Kathie Lee Gifford

Synopsis: Weekday mornings from New York City, hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa talk about the latest headlines from the newspaper, what they did the night before, family life and more, before celebrity guests join them to be interviewed.

Impact:: Geared to the midmorning viewer, “Live With Regis & Kelly” is light and playful. The banter between the co-hosts is a highlight of the show, and whether with Ms. Gifford or Ms. Ripa, Mr. Philbin’s bluster adds to the fun. The show includes the live studio audience and home viewers in contests for trips and prizes.

The Maury Povich Show

Aired: 1991-present

Star: Maury Povich

Synopsis: Daily talk show starring Maury Povich, former host of “A Current Affair.” The subject matter is usually personal, such as determining paternity or revealing the results of a lie-detector test.

Impact:: After taking on tabloid stories on “A Current Affair,” Mr. Povich now tackles issues that are of more personal interest to his guests, but in an equally sensational manner. His approach is generally sympathetic to the participants, and Mr. Povich acts very connected to the guests, although critics suspect he’s being exploitive. The live studio audience hoots and howls at the excessiveness, and approximately 3.5 million TV viewers watch each episode.

The Oprah Winfrey Show

Aired: 1986-present

Stars: Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King

Synopsis: Chicago-based daytime talk show starring Oprah Winfrey. In addition to celebrity interviews, musical guests and hot-topic discussions with experts, Ms. Winfrey encourages viewers with counsel, direction and ways to improve their lives.

Impact:: “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is the most successful talk show to ever air in daytime. The program has become the hallmark by which all other shows are measured. The key to its success is Ms. Winfrey, a former newscaster, who emerged as a star soon after the program began. Her stardom has soared in the years since, and she has become a philanthropist as well. In 1998, Time magazine named “The Oprah Winfrey Show” one of the greatest TV shows of the 20th century. It has always been a ratings topper, as well as a multiple award-winning show.

The Rosie O’Donnell Show

Aired: 1996-2002

Star: Rosie O’Donnell

Synopsis: Comedian Rosie O’Donnell hosted an hourlong talk show filled with celebrity guests, audience participation, fun and games.

Impact:: Film and TV star Rosie O’Donnell came to the daytime arena in 1996 with a talk show inspired by “The Mike Douglas Show.” Ms. O’Donnell positioned herself as very much like her audience, sharing stories from her life, gossiping about pop culture and TV shows and being as in awe of guests like Barbra Streisand and Tom Cruise as any home viewer would be. The generous host showered her studio audience with giveaways, a practice that others, including Oprah Winfrey, have imitated. “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” was consistently near the top of the Nielsens and won the daytime talk show Emmy five times.

Ricki Lake

Aired: 1998-2004

Star: Ricki Lake

Synopsis: Cult movie star Ricki Lake hosted this talk show about current social issues and affairs that matter to twentysomethings.

Impact:: In an era when there seemed to be an overload of talk shows all over the dial, Ricki Lake carved out a niche by appealing to a younger demographic. She was younger than her peers and had a connection with her generation that her competitors couldn’t claim. Guests on the show were real people dealing with real issues, usually in a passionate and explosive way.

Siskel & Ebert & the Movies

Aired: 1986-present

Stars: Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper

Synopsis: Weekly review of the current movies playing in theaters by Chicago film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

Impact:: Siskel & Ebert’s review show began as a PBS half-hour called “Sneak Previews.” In 1986, the critics expanded their influence by going into syndication. Mr. Siskel’s and Mr. Ebert’s thumbs-up or thumbs-down reviews provided guidance for people planning to go to the movies, and their influence became so great that a film’s success might depend on which direction their powerful thumbs pointed. Mr. Siskel died in 1999 and was later replaced by fellow Chicago Sun-Times film columnist Richard Roeper.

Star Search

Aired: 1983-1995

Star: Ed McMahon

Synopsis: Talented hopefuls pursue their dreams of stardom by competing in categories such as female vocalist, male vocalist, comedian, young performer and spokesmodel, with their performances assessed by a panel of five judges. The studio audience serves as tiebreaker, and picks the ultimate champion.

Impact:: “Star Search” created the template for “American Idol” and other successful talent competition shows that came later. CBS resurrected the title for a short run in 2003 and 2004, with Arsenio Hall as host. Among those who competed in the original run of the show were Rosie O’Donnell, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, Dennis Miller, Sinbad, LeAnn Rimes and Christina Aguilera. Jenny Jones, who won the comedy competition in 1986, went on to notoriety as the host of her own talk show.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Aired: 1987-1994

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg

Synopsis: In the 24th century, the crew of the Starship Enterprise explores strange new worlds for the Federation of Planets.

Impact:: Based on Gene Roddenberry’s seminal science fiction television drama “Star Trek,” “The Next Generation” reimagined the show by setting it nearly a hundred years after Captain Kirk’s time. With dynamic new characters including Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the android Data, plus top-notch special effects and complex stories, “Next Generation” won over the legion of die-hard “Trek” fans while making new ones. The series is the only syndicated show ever nominated for an Emmy for drama series (1994). Launching “Next Generation” in first-run syndication was risky at the time, but the success of the series paved the way for other shows, including three spinoffs: “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise.” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” eventually made the jump to the big screen, with its younger cast taking over from the original actors in the successful movie franchise.

Wheel of Fortune

Aired: 1983-present


Stars:
Chuck Woolery, Pat Sajak, Vanna White

Synopsis: Game show in which contestants win prizes and money by solving a word puzzle as they spin a wheel to determine prize values.

Impact:: Before going into syndication, “Wheel of Fortune” was broadcast on NBC from 1975 to 1989. However, when creator Merv Griffin moved the game show to syndication, its popularity exploded. The show made a star of Vanna White and became a ratings sensation, wiping out other game shows such as “Family Feud” and “Name That Tune.” In 23 years in syndication, the show has awarded more than $162 million in cash and prizes to its contestants.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Aired: 1995-2001

Stars: Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor

Synopsis: In ancient Greece, former renegade Xena travels with her loyal companion Gabrielle, righting wrongs and making up for her previous wayward ways.

Impact:: The success of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” inspired the creation of “Xena: Warrior Princess.” The original three-story arc on “Hercules” launched “Xena,” and like “Hercules,” “Xena” was meant specifically for syndication. The adventure series found a loyal audience based on the appeal of the two leads, as well as the sly blend of campy humor and exciting drama. There was also a large segment of viewers who admired the lesbian subtext in Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship.

46 Comments

  1. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE “SOUL TRAIN” TELEVISION SERIES? WHY IS IT NOT ON YOUR SYNDICATED LIST? I BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE ON THE LIST BECAUSE IT HAS LASTED A LONG TIME WITH ORIGINAL HOST/CREATOR/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER DON CORNELIUS, AND FUTURE HOSTS WHO REPLACED HIM, INCLUDING MYSTRO CLARK, SHEMAR MOORE, DORIAN GREGORY (AND POSSIBLY FUTURE HOSTESS WANDA SYKES?). PLEASE ADD THE “SOUL TRAIN” TELEVISION SERIES, BECAUSE I BELIEVE THE “SOUL TRAIN” TELEVISION SERIES EARNED THE RIGHT TO BE LISTED WITH ALL OF THE “SYNDICATED” SHOWS THAT YOU LISTED. IT IS NOT A JUST ACTION, BUT IT IS A “RIGHT” ACTION.THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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