Getting ready to buy
Familiar faces will fill familiar genres with new twists
By Joe Schlosser -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/6/2002 7:00:00 PM
Although NATPE isn't what it used to be, the majority of Hollywood's syndication studios are still using the annual TV gathering as the focal point for their sales efforts on new first-run and off-network syndicated series.
Consolidation and the slumping economy have definitely slowed the process down, but there's still plenty to shop for once again this winter, even if fewer syndicators are coming and few of the big ones are actually going to house themselves at the convention center in Las Vegas. (Most of the major syndicators are at the Venetian hotel.)
Still, there's a handful of new game shows, talk shows, action hours and even a few reality series to choose from. The court-show onslaught has slowed a bit, as has the rush to produce the next great dating show, but there are a lot of familiar faces coming to daytime and access time slots in 2002-03.
Syndicated versions of games Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Weakest Link are being developed and sold. Dr. Phil McGraw, who appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show every week, is getting his own series, and Whose Line Is It Anyway? regular Wayne Brady is going to take his act to daytime with a talk/variety series. America's Most Wanted host John Walsh is also trying his hand with a talk show, and Donny Osmond is back in syndication as a game-show host on an updated Pyramid.
On the off-network front, Dharma & Greg, That '70s Show, The Hughleys and Will & Grace are all coming in the fall to local stations. For fall 2003, CBS sitcom Becker is already being sold, and fellow Monday-night comedy King of Queens is also expected to be coming then as well.
The syndication industry hasn't seen a break-out hit since Judge Judy debuted five years ago, and no talk show has given Winfrey a run for her money since Jerry Springer's bizarre talk show was a new concept.
But there are opportunities. Fox's daytime kids block will be opening up in the fall, and a number of new and veteran shows are expected to be canceled in the coming months. As is the case every year, there seems to be abundant optimism surrounding the new batch of syndicated fare coming to market. And no doubt, as every year, much of it is wishful thinking. Following is a closer look into syndication for 2002-03, compiled by Los Angeles Bureau Chief Joe Schlosser.
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