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First-Run Lineup Shakes Out

Feb 3, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Last week’s NATPE market all but solidified the fall lineup for major station groups across the country, leaving only a few holes to fill, as names from Montel Williams to Judge Hatchett—and perhaps Judge Maria Lopez—are all poised to leave the first-run airwaves next season.
The Fox-owned stations, which include its MyNet affiliates, was by far the most active of the outlets in the off-season, so far picking up Debmar-Mercury’s “Trivial Pursuit: America Plays,” as well as Program Partners’ “Family Court With Judge Penny” for the fall 2008 season in its major markets.
“We believe that Judge Penny Brown Reynolds will have huge impact with court viewers,” said Stephanie Drachkovitch, executive producer of the series. “We’re excited to launch her with the support of such great broadcasters.”
Leaving the airwaves, at least as first-run shows, will be CBS Television Distribution’s “Montel,” which spent 17 seasons as a first-run series, and “Judge Hatchett” from Sony, which was in its eighth season. Both series are being offered to station groups as “best of” packages.
“We’ve been honored to have Montel as part of the CBS family for the past 17 years, and we’re very excited that ‘Montel’ will live on through best-of episodes,” said John Nogawski, president of the CBS Television Distribution Group. “Stations continue to embrace Montel and his message of social responsibility that has been the cornerstone of his show.”
Multiple station sources from around the country said Sony’s “Judge Maria Lopez” will not return to their stations next season, citing poor ratings. However, should Sony opt to move forward with the show, it could always jump to another outlet should there be any interested parties.
Multiple calls and emails to Sony representatives regarding the status of the show were not returned.
On the station side, Tribune’s syndicated lineup will remain virtually intact, with the station group renewing NBC Universal’s “Steve Wilkos” for a second season and picking up only Sony Pictures Television’s “Judge Karen” to add to the lineup. Departing the lineup, at least in New York, will likely be Sony’s “Judge Maria Lopez,” which is currently in its second season but ranks at the bottom of the court show category.
NBC remains the only other station group to see lineup changes, with Warner Bros.’ “The Bonnie Hunt Show” and NBC’s own “Deal or No Deal” preparing to hit the lineup in the fall. Stations likely will be moving “iVillage” to make way for the programs. In addition, while WNBC-TV picked up a second season of “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords” from Program Partners, it remains to be seen if NBC outlets in Los Angeles and Chicago will follow suit.

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