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NATPE dicey, but some score

While the Las Vegas show produced few winners, Caroline and Ananda can celebrate 1/28/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern

With several spoilers thrown at NATPE 2001, including a slipping economy and the Chris-Craft station group's apparent freeze on buying new products, it's a wonder syndicators got anything done last week.

A few legitimate winners emerged out of NATPE. Paramount's Caroline
came into the conference with "officially" 0% clearance, and walked away with 70% of the U.S. locked up. But Caroline
is still missing a key Chicago home. Studios USA Domestic Television nailed down all the top cities at NATPE for Crossing Over With John Edward
(now over 80% sold), striking gold late Wednesday when the show landed Los Angeles (KCAL). Nothing was announced at the show, but sources say Warner Bros.' Elimidate
has hit 85% U.S. coverage.

Little NATPE work had to be done on King World's Ananda, a show that stepped into the convention with all the top markets cleared. But it does merit mention as one of the few 2001 efforts with 80% coverage in the U.S.

Similarly, Buena Vista's Iyanla
had legs prior to the convention, having already been befriended by several ABC O&O's, but it boosted its clearances from 60% to 70%. Others enjoying a comparatively upbeat week-because they nabbed station group deals pre-NATPE-were Talk or Walk
(68%, Tribune stations), Mutant X
(76%, Tribune) and The Other Half
(more than 60%, NBC, Gannett and Hearst-Argyle).

Runners-up to this crowd, but deserving of silver and bronze medals for their NATPE wheeling and dealing, include Columbia TriStar Television Distribution for performing major surgery on low-rated Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. To revive the series, CTTD yanked host Cybill Shepherd (she'll be replaced by a committee of five), and will unveil the massive facelift the first week in February. Other major moves from CTTD included offering double runs of Seinfeld, without an additional license fee, for stations that have already licensed the show. But there was still no renewal news on Mars, Venus
and no clearance info on 2001 dating strip Shipmates.

Universal Worldwide Television landed Los Angeles (KCAL) and Chicago (WPWR) for its 2001 Blind Date
companion, The Fifth Wheel. But the show is on the hunt for a home in New York. Pearson's Card Sharks
is in the same boat, scoring Los Angeles (KCAL) and Chicago (WCIU) but it's still dateless in New York. Lions Gate/ Mercury has similarly come up empty in New York for its Who Wants to Date a Hooters Girl? But studio sources indicate that if a syndicated run doesn't pan out, they'll shop the series to cable outlets.

Studio USA's President Steve Rosenberg thought it was a drag watching syndicators, including himself, trip up in scoring New York and Los Angeles real estate. Hampering deals in those cities is the impending acquisition of Chris-Craft stations by Fox's parent News Corp. Until that deal closes, Chris-Craft is staying away from the syndication market, and that is stalling sales in New York (where Chris-Craft owns WWOR) and Los Angeles (KCOP). It has "definitely slowed things down," Rosenberg said.

Action hours felt the Chris-Craft chill. "The general perception is that they can renew, but they can't add anything, which has frozen the marketplace," said Tribune chief Dick Askin, who has several top action hours to sell.

No 2001 action hour, with the exception of Tribune Entertainment's Mutant-X
(76%, 98 markets cleared) has officially announced big station clearances. New Line's executive vice president of syndication, David Spiegelman claimed 65% clearance on Hard Knox
but declined to give specifics. Lions Gate TV's chief Kevin Beggs expects Tracker, starring Highlander's
Adrian Paul, to be a "go," but didn't comment further. Also, no definites are attached to Pearson's Lean Angle, with Antonio Sabato Jr. and Colosseum, headlined by Andrew Dice Clay.

Promark Entertainment head David Levine says his HDTV project, The Secret of Jules Verne, is closed in 50% of the country, but he admitted to needing to fill voids in Los Angeles and New York.

The floor was not, by most accounts, crowded with activity or excitement, though Rosenberg says Studios USA got whatever there was in support of its psychic talker, Crossing Over With John Edward.
"We created a lot of buzz on the floor," when promoting John Edward, says Rosenberg. "It spurred a lot of activity."

"People started talking and that gave station general managers confidence," he added.

However, one of the pet projects, Dick Wolf's Arrest & Trial, didn't shore up its Los Angeles and New York clearance sheet. Blaming November's election for unfairly sinking syndicated series' ratings, Studios USA and other studios with similar "on the bubble" efforts (for example, King World's Curtis Court, Warner Bros.' Queen Latifah
and MGM's National Enquirer: Uncovered) are waiting until after February sweeps to make decisions on those shows.


The NATPE scorecard

Show Clearance Barter Distributor


Talk

Ananda

80%

10.5/3.5

King World Productions

Caroline

70%

6/8

Paramount Domestic TV

Iyanla

70%

3.5/10.5

Buena Vista Television

The Other Half

60%

11/3

NBC Enterprises and Syndication


Games

Show

Clearance

Barter

Distributor

Card Sharks*

N/A

3.5/3.5

Pearson Television

Who Wants to Date a Hooters Girl?

N/A

3.5/3.5

Lions Gate/Mercury


Relationships

Show

Clearance

Barter

Distributor

Cheaters

N/A

7/7

Western International Synd.

Elimidate

85%

N/A

Telepictures Distribution

Fifth Wheel

67%

3.5/3.5

Universal Worldwide TV

Rendez-View

90%

3.5/3.5

Paramount Domestic TV

Talk or Walk

68%

3.5/10.5

Tribune Entertainment


Reality

Show

Clearance

Barter

Distributor

The Bravest

N/A

7/7

Hearst Entertainment

Crossing Over With John Edwards

80%

1.5/5.5

Studios USA Domestic


News/Magazine

Show

Clearance

Barter

Distributor

Hot Ticket

70%

3.5/3.5

Paramount Domestic TV

Urban Latino

50%

3.5/3.5

Litton Inc.

Drama

Show

Clearance

Barter

Distributor

Chicken Soup for the Soul

70%

3.5/3.5

Litton Inc.


Action

Show

Clearance

Barter

Distributor

The Adventures of Jules Verne

50%

N/A

Promark Entertainment

Collosseum

N/A

N/A

Pearson Television

Hard Knox

65%

7/7

New Line Television

Lean Angle

N/A

N/A

Pearson Television

Mutant-X

76%

8/6

Tribune Entertainment

Tracker

N/A

7/7

Lions Gate/Mercury

*Has secured KCAL Los Angeles, WCIU Chicago

Source: Broadcasting & Cable

 

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