Friedman expands game-show role
By Steve McClellan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/26/2002 8:00:00 PM
Columbia TriStar Domestic Television has renewed a multiyear contract with Harry Friedman, who will remain as executive producer of both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, the two highest-rated series in first-run syndication. He also takes on the added role of executive consultant for CTDT's new game show Pyramid. The deal follows Friedman's fourth Emmy win (outstanding game show, Jeopardy) on May 17.
The executive producer for Pyramid is Stephen Brown, who has written, produced and created more than 20 game shows (including Love Connection and the Newlywed Game remake) for syndication and cable.
Friedman had this to say about his role on Pyramid: "I'll be helping get the production going, using the knowledge I've gained over the years in understanding the marketplace as it pertains to game shows."
As of February (the latest available sweeps ratings), Wheel has been No. 1 in viewership for 72 consecutive sweeps periods. Jeopardy has been No. 2 for 65 consecutive sweeps. Friedman has been executive producer of both since 1999.
CTDT continues to talk up off-network sitcom King of Queens in the marketplace, with the first deal likely in the next couple of weeks. It's set to debut in fall 2003. Sources say the company is looking for an initial five-year deal to cover the first 125 episodes (through 2003). Still to be determined is whether the distributor will add an automatic-extension clause based on how long the show remains in production for network TV.
Only the first three years of the off-network package would be exclusive to broadcast syndication, with a cable window likely starting in year four. The cash-plus-barter deal would give stations 5.5 minutes to sell weekdays, CTDT 1.5 minutes. Two weekend airings would be split evenly, with stations and the distributor both getting 3.5 minutes. Double runs are optional.
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