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Krasnow Goes Searching for First-Run Hits

New No. 2 at Telepictures taps into social media, stations in strategy to connect with viewers 10/22/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Stuart Krasnow has his work cut out for
him. The new executive VP of creative affairs
at Telepictures Productions has his sights set
firmly on first-run syndication, which is currently as
hard a business as there is in the television industry.

“First-run is always the end game,” says Krasnow,
who was named to his new post last week. “It’s the
holy grail, and it’s always going to be the goal of the
company. Ellen, TMZ, Extra—these are all brands
people have in their lives every single day. There are
very few TV shows about which you can say that.”

Krasnow’s track record at developing and
launching these sorts of long-running shows—
perhaps most notably, Twentieth’s Forgive Or Forget
With Mother Love
, which enjoyed a three-season
run—is what appealed to his new boss, Hilary Estey
McLoughlin, Telepictures’ president.

“Stuart is widely known as someone who is wildly prolific, creative and
universally liked,” says McLoughlin. “With experience producing reality
series, docu-soaps and other formats, Stuart looks at things differently, and
he’s integrating more innovation into the shows he’s been executing. We are
always trying to reinvent what we are doing and the genres we produce.”

While launching a successful first-run show in syndication remains
the goal, how companies get there has changed dramatically in the
digital age, with so many opportunities to build a talent’s relationship
with the audience before he or she ever takes the talk-show stage.

“You really have to look at it like spokes on a wheel,” says Krasnow,
who cut his syndication teeth on such shows as King World’s The Martin
Short Show
. “You are putting talent on camera, looking at the digital
space, looking at social media and, of course, working with TV stations
to develop talent and shows. You have to do so many steps to win the big
prize, to get a show on the air and get it to the level of an Ellen or a TMZ.”

For example, Telepictures, Warner Bros. Television’s first-run production
arm, first launched TMZ as a website. Once it became successful
online, the company launched the TV
show. Similarly, Telepictures had Bethenny Frankel
make appearances on Ellen for months before
testing Frankel’s own show last summer to see if
it had any legs. Bethenny has been sold to the Fox
owned stations for a fall 2013 launch.

And while ratings tell an important part of the
story, they don’t reveal everything. “When I look
at longevity, it’s [also] about buzz,” says Krasnow,
who also has produced several primetime reality
shows, including Weakest Link, Average Joe and
The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. “When
these shows are airing five days a week for years,
those stars and shows are household names.”

The community and connectivity that daytime
viewers experience is what marketers
crave. That’s why social media has become
so prevalent on daytime talk shows, with Anderson Cooper
reading out tweets as they come in and Ricki Lake encouraging her
viewers to gather on Facebook.

“Nighttime viewing is more of a passive thing—it’s a time when you
want to put up your feet and just be entertained,” says Krasnow. “But
in the middle of your day, you want a takeaway. You want to react to

Perhaps that’s why TV’s best talk-show hosts—Oprah Winfrey, Regis
Philbin and, today, Ellen DeGeneres—are people daytime viewers just
want to hang out with.

“The job of daytime TV is almost to over-share,” says Krasnow. “Back
in the day, Regis and Kathie Lee were always telling you stories of what
happened in their lives since the last time they saw you. Shows today
almost have a responsibility to show and share as much as possible.”

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