Paramount Develops Mystery, Money
By Paige Albiniak and Steve McClellan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/29/2002 7:00:00 PM
With Paramount's reality strip Life Moments on life support after 10 NBC owned-and-operated stations decided to cancel or downgrade it to late night next week, the syndicator is looking ahead with weekend hour Unexplained Mysteries in development for fall 2003.
The Viacom-owned company also is considering several other ideas for upcoming seasons, including a court/relationship show tentatively titled For Love or Money.
For Love or Money is in the early stages of its development. Far more certain is Paramount's spin-off of Entertainment Tonight's Insider segment for fall 2004.
For Love or Money is one of at least two court shows in the works. Another is Tribune's Mobile Court, where a California judge would travel to the scene of a dispute. No word yet on whether that show will go forward.
Earlier, NBC Enterprises and Court TV had considered bringing out a show for next season they called Trial by Fire with Nancy Grace, a sort of court-talk hybrid, which appears to be on hold for now.
Unexplained Mysteries is similar to a show Paramount produced several years ago called Sightings and will look at paranormal phenomena, such as mysterious symbols that appear in fields, Bigfoot and UFOs.
"It's a whole X-Files look at reality," says John Nogawski, executive vice president of Paramount Domestic Television.
The show will shoot new footage but also draw from the Sightings library, Nogawski says. The show does not yet have a host.
Unexplained Mysteries will be available on a straight barter basis, with seven minutes of advertising available for stations and seven for the syndicators. Paramount hopes Unexplained Mysteries will work on the weekends because it is relatively inexpensive to produce.
Meanwhile, NBC owned-and-operated stations in 10 markets plan to stop airing or downgrade Life Moments as of Jan. 6 and replace it with NBC-owned The Other Half, sources confirm.
Life Moments actually does a bit better in the ratings than does The Other Half, with Life Moments averaging a 0.9 rating in November sweeps and The Other Half averaging a 0.7, according to Nielsen Media Research. But sources say that NBC believes it will ultimately do better financially by putting a show it owns into the time slots, even though NBC has agreed to make good on its Life Moments license fees and some commercial time commitments.
Life Moments will continue to air in good time slots on four other NBC stations: KNSD(TV) San Diego, KNTV(TV) San Francisco, WJAR(TV) Providence and WTVJ(TV) Miami.
Neither NBC Enterprises nor Paramount would comment on Life Moments.
Life Moments is a one-hour weekday program that includes three or four segments on universal events such as weddings, births or reunions. It premiered last September.
The Other Half features a panel of four men—Danny Bonaduce, Dick Clark, Dorian Gregory and Mario Lopez—talking about issues that interest women from a man's point of view. The show is in its second season and has been renewed through spring 2003. It is co-owned by NBC Enterprises, Hearst-Argyle and Gannett Broadcasting.
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