Litton Positioning ‘McKnight’

Mar 8, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Dave Morgan, president and CEO of Litton Entertainment, is banking on stations having rerun fatigue as his company’s new show, “The Brian McKnight Show,” prepares for a fall 2009 launch.
“McKnight,” which Mr. Morgan described as “Arsenio Hall” meets “Entertainment Tonight,” will begin production in Los Angeles this summer and premiere the week of Sept. 14. A minimum of 26 episodes will be created, he said.
“McKnight” is mostly selling to stations for time slots on the weekends, airing against shows like “Saturday Night Live.”
In the syndication realm, weekends generally are home to off-network dramas, like the “Law & Order” and “CSI” franchises. First-run late-night talk shows like “McKnight” haven’t really taken off over the past decade.
While “Arsenio” gained a massive amount of national attention during the show’s five-year run, several other syndicated late-night talk shows have come and quickly gone, including “The Whoopi Goldberg Show,” “The Dennis Miller Show,” “The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show,” “The Ron Reagan Show” and “The Magic Hour.”
Mr. Morgan, who is executive producing “McKnight” along with producer Larry Klein, said he isn’t worried.
Stations have been receptive to “McKnight,” as local affiliates do not want to be branded as “rerun stations” on the weekends, he said.
“[Station managers] like the versatility [of ‘McKnight’],” he said. “The procedural dramas, they’re cookie-cutter decisions for these guys.”
Mr. Morgan said he’s hoping the show gains popularity in midsize markets, which then will influence larger markets.
Some of those midsized markets include MyNetworkTV affiliates that recently regained programming of their Saturday nights after MyNet announced a move toward a five-day-a-week distribution model in February.
Mr. Morgan said discussions with those MyNet affiliates have allowed “McKnight” to be scheduled in primetime on some of those stations.
“A lot of the major markets will look at a market like Orlando or San Antonio, and see that it’s really working well in primetime,” he said. “And that will ignite a television show.”
“McKnight” is currently sold in New York on Tribune’s WPIX-TV, along with Weigel’s WCIU in Chicago. Other stations owned by LIN, Sinclair, CBS, Newport, Barrington, Local TV, McKinnon and Hubbard, as well as CW Plus stations, have purchased the show.

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