Most Bankable Stars: First-Timers Push Perennial Faves Off Syndie List

Jan 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

In an industry that thrives on stability, syndication’s most bankable stars all bring a comforting sense of familiarity to the table, even the rookies. What is unfamiliar, however, is the number of “firsts” we find on the 2008 “Most Bankable Stars of Syndication” list. With the votes tallied, the panel of experts on syndication from different aspects of the industry have made their ruling.
For the first time in the history of the survey, the list finds a tie, a producer in lieu of a star, no “Seinfeld” and not a single newsmagazine in the mix, with freshman “TMZ” splitting votes from usual players “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood.” Tyra Banks also tumbled off the list, with panelists citing declining ratings and a simmering “Top Model” scandal.
After a down year in the 2007 list, off-net series roared back to life with three shows that have all put a dent in syndication, despite perennials “Seinfeld,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Friends” all failing to make the cut. Game shows also return to the mix after sitting out last year.
What does bond all 11 of the “Most Bankable” is the ability to capture instant recognition across broad audiences; that’s true even of the series that debuted in syndication only this season. However, the top two choices showed chinks in their armor as panelists worried that they had begun to show signs of overexposure.
Our annual survey taps the knowledge of some of the television industry’s most plugged-in pundits to see which syndicated personality currently on the air, either in first-run or off-network, has the ability to make a project a runaway success. Every year we include experts from around the business with different areas of expertise, from the creative side to advertisers to stations.
They consider both audience and advertiser draw, their ability to create spinoff projects and their appeal, no matter in which daypart a show is broadcast. The panelists then are asked to rank their top 10 personalities and comment on why they deserve to be included on the list.
TelevisionWeek tallies their votes using a point system that considers where the star is ranked as well as how many times that person (or persons) appears on the ballots.
TelevisionWeek asked seven industry insiders to help select syndication’s 10 most bankable stars for 2008. Here’s a glance at the panel of experts.
Bill Carroll
Bill Carroll is VP and director of programming for the Katz Television Group. In that role, he is responsible for a department including programmers and researchers who consult with a client list of more than 350 broadcast stations. He personally advises stations in Eagle Television Sales, Continental Television Sales and Millennium Sales & Marketing.
His extensive programming experience includes 14 years with WHEC-TV, Rochester, N.Y., where he held the positions of assistant VP for program services, program director, program manager and associate programming director. Mr. Carroll also oversaw production and promotion for the station.
Stephanie Drachkovitch
44 Blue Productions Executive Vice President Stephanie Drachkovitch co-founded the company with her husband, Rasha. She returned to 44 Blue in 2003 after spending more than a dozen years as a studio development and programming executive, primarily focused in the first-run syndication arena, with an emphasis on the alternative and reality genres. Her breadth of experience runs the gamut, having developed prime-time reality series such as the mega-hit “The Bachelor” and the U.S. game show phenomenon “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
Most recently, Ms. Drachkovitch was senior VP of development for Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, the studio’s reality programming division.
Paul Faulhaber
Talk-show veteran Paul Faulhaber has been executive producer of “Maury,” NBC Universal Television Distribution’s nationally syndicated talk show hosted by Maury Povich, since August 2005.
Before “Maury,” Mr. Faulhaber was a producer at “Gayle King” during the show’s run from 1997-98. Prior to that, he spent three years as a producer at “The Gordon Elliott Show” from 1994-97. Mr. Faulhaber began his television career in 1991 at “The Montel Williams Show,” starting in the research department and then moving on to become an associate producer through the 1994 season.
Lewis Fenton
Lewis Fenton is executive producer and head of production for Juma Entertainment (“The Singing Bee,” “Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest,” “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials”), where he heads the company’s in-house development group and serves as showrunner for all Juma productions. Mr. Fenton’s extensive reality credits include NBC’s “Three Wishes,” A&E’s “Inked” and NBC’s “Average Joe.”
Lance Klein
Lance Klein is an agent in the alternative television department at the Endeavor Agency. His practice is focused on network reality, cable, syndication and the international TV marketplace. Mr. Klein has packaged series for networks ranging from ABC and NBC to A&E and MTV. Mr. Klein also renegotiated one of the largest original production deals ever in cable for the UFC at Spike.
Before joining Endeavor, Mr. Klein was VP of new media at International Creative Management and held the position of VP, West Coast, for Microcast, a company providing consumers with live and archived programming on-demand.
Chuck Larsen
October Moon President Chuck Larsen has an extensive career in television station management, program production, marketing and distribution. Before joining October Moon, he was president of worldwide distribution for MTM Entertainment.
Mark OBrien
As founder and president of Mighty Oak Entertainment, Mr. OBrien has successfully launched series including “Wacked Out Sports” to network, cable and syndication partners. Before creating the company, Mr. OBrien had a 20-year tenure at Warner Bros., during which he was instrumental in the syndication of more than 65 series, both first-run and off-net.

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