Smaller Distributors Offer Some Goodies, Too
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/5/2003 7:00:00 PM
If NATPE shoppers aren't interested in what the major studios have to offer, they have a few other places to look.
If stations have a hole in late-night, South Carolina-based Litton Syndications is shopping Ask Rita, a talk/relationship/comedy half-hour strip featuring comedienne Rita Rudner. The show will launch on Jan. 27, and two episodes per day will be available starting Aug. 29.
Litton already has cleared the show in 58% of the country, including WXIA-TV in Atlanta, KPNX-TV in Phoenix, XETV-TV in San Diego and KVBC-TV in Las Vegas. Rita also has been cleared on two major Cox Broadcasting stations: ABC owned-and-operated stations in New York, Chicago, Houston and Raleigh, N.C.; and The WB 100+ stations. Litton is offering it on a cash-plus-barter basis, with 1 1/2 minutes of advertising time going to Litton and 5 1/2 minutes going to the stations.
Ask Rita will feature Rudner and a panel of celebrities answering viewer mail, giving advice and having fun. It's also likely to be on the racier side, considering the host, the expected time-slots and the types of panelists Rudner expects to entice.
"We had a time period available and it's a very funny show," said Gene Greenberg, executive vice president and general manager of Vegas NBC affiliate KVBC(TV). "I felt it could do very well in Vegas."
Rudner lives in the desert city, where the show will be taped, with her husband, who will produce it. But the stand-up comic already has plenty of Hollywood contacts to draw on, and among the first guests will be film star Steve Martin, comedian Dennis Miller, vaunted Hollywood madame Heidi Fleiss, 8 Simple Rules star John Ritter, Family Feud's Louie Anderson and CSI: Miami's Emily Proctor.
Smaller syndicators are also offering three new weekly half-hours. Santa Monica-based Telco Productions has Missing, which draws on the FBI files of missing persons. Hearst Entertainment Corp. is turning its CosmoGIRL! magazine into a lifestyle weekly of the same name that it claims will satisfy FCC children's TV programming requirements. And Mansfield Television Distribution and Worldlink are offering America's Moving To..., which will showcase different American cities. The show is tied in with Ryland Homes, which will be the presenting sponsor. So far, it's cleared in 33% of the nation.
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