In Syndication, All Eyes Now On 2013
Even through broadcast syndication's fall season is less than three weeks old, distributors, broadcasters and would-be first-run stars are already looking ahead to 2013.
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution this week lined up the Fox Television Stations as the major-market outlet for Bethenny, setting the stage for its debut sometime next year.
Sony Pictures Television is actively shopping Queen Latifah, and, according to some on the receiving end of the pitches, is close to making a deal with a major-market launch group.
And Tribune Broadcasting is confirmed to be taping seven episodes of a court show in partnership with ITV Studios America with lawyer and former Court TV host Michael William Lebron with hopes of a 2013 roll out.
The two talk shows take different tacks. In her test run on Fox this summer, former reality star Bethenny Frankel talked about what women talk about with their friends – relationships, careers and sex. Actress-singer Queen Latifah celebrates people who are making a difference in the world or need a hand in doing that.
Broadcasters who have seen the Latifah pilot with actress Cameron Diaz as guest say that it is a polished production with two out-of-the studio segments. In one, Latifah surprises a group of students by having singer Alicia Keys record a song with them.
Sony declined to comment for this story.
Fox picked up Bethenny in 17 markets, including WNYW New York, KTTV Los Angeles and four other stations that were part of the summer test.
“It will depend on the market, but Wendy Williams may be a great companion show for Bethenny, which it was during the test,” says Frank Cicha, senior vice president of programming at Fox Television Stations. “But this could also air later in the afternoon, maybe 2 p.m., 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.”
Warner Bros. is now talking to other station groups about the show, and those discussions will help decide when to schedule the start of the show. Right now, Warner Bros. doesn't know whether it will go for a fall launch or a date earlier in the year.
Bethenny is executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres, host of the what is currently syndication's No. 1 talk show.
“It was developed in some ways to be a companion to Ellen,” says Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. “It can be, but whether it will be or not is up to the marketplace. Ellen is matched up with all sorts of wonderful shows."
It's too early to say how much room there will be for new first-run shows, but distributors believe there will be opportunities.
“Daytime is locked up, but NBC stations have at least one hole,” says one syndication executive. “They have Access Hollywood Live and, frankly, Jeff Probst has to perform for NBC to keep it on.”
NBCUniversal’s newsmagazine Access Hollywood Live, which airs on 15 stations, including six NBC O&Os, is up for renewal. CBS Television Distribution’s Jeff Probst is in the first of its two-year deal with NBC stations. So far, its numbers have been less than what CTD and NBC had hoped.
Other first-run shows up for renewal are Warner Bros.’ revamped Anderson Live, Twentieth Television’s new Ricki and Debmar-Mercury’s Jeremy Kyle.
Eyeing the possible openings are celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. They have a talk show in the early stages of development with CDT.
Also looking for first-run opportunities, according to syndication sources:
Former Today and The View co-host Meredith Vieira. For several months, she and her agent have been pitching a talk show. Vieira currently hosts the Disney-ABC game show Millionaire.
Singer Toni Braxton’s sisters, who star with Toni Braxton in the WE tv reality show Braxton Family Values.
Reality star Aubrey O’Day, who is best known for appearing on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice.
Food Network star Paula Deen, with a game show called Food Chain. It’s based on an Italian show. The latest word is that it's headed for cable.
American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, with Good News Girls, a View-type show co-hosted by Los Angeles news anchors.