No Rest for Twentieth
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/6/2003 8:00:00 PM
Summer is in full swing, and, while most of Hollywood is on vacation, Twentieth Television is preparing to launch two shows in as many as 25 of Fox's markets.
Both Classmates and Ambush Makeover launch today on Fox owned-and-operated stations. Classmates starts in 25 markets, with clearances in a variety of dayparts. Ambush Makeover is in 20 markets, with daytime clearances from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The syndicator plans to keep both shows in test mode for a while and doesn't know when it might take them national, as it has done with Good Day Live and Ex-Treme Dating.
"We are producing 13 weeks of both shows, and I would like to think that, at the end of that run, we'll have an answer," says Twentieth President and COO Bob Cook. "It's never clear-cut. A show might be going through the roof in some markets and not doing so well in others."
Twentieth will launch Live With Ryan Seacrest in January, so, if the syndicator chooses to take Classmates and Ambush Makeover national around that time, it will have its hands full.
In general, Twentieth's hands are fuller than they were. Counting Seacrest, Classmates and Ambush, the syndicator has seven first-run shows, vs. just two—Divorce Court and Texas Justice —two years ago. And it could have an eighth on tap for winter, says Robb Dalton, president of programming and production.
"We're not afraid to have 12 first-runs on the air," says Dalton, who also runs Twentieth's new Fox Labs, a development pod charged with coming up with new shows.
"There's a lot of demand," Cook says. "The Fox O&Os have a lot of needs."
Ian Ziering, formerly of Fox's Beverly Hills 90210, will be the voiceover host of Classmates. With 64 segments under its belt, Classmates has already shot spots in 32 of the 50 states, two segments comprising a show.
The "stars" of Ambush Makeover are the six stylists who run up to people in cities all over the country and persuade them to submit to a major makeover. Seventy segments are in the can, enough for 35 episodes.
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