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New Romance Buds With Dating Shows

At least three projects in once-hot genre court syndication marketplace 11/08/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Dating shows and first-run
syndication may be
getting back together.

Dating shows were one of syndication’s
most popular genres in the
1990s and early 2000s, but years
of watching scantily clad men and
women go on dates to chain restaurants
and flirt in hot tubs finally got
to viewers, who gradually stopped
watching them. The top-rated
show, Blind Date, went off the air in
2006 after a seven-year run.

Now the genre is poised to return
to syndication, with at least three
entries in development.

Trifecta Entertainment is out pitching Geek Meets Girl, a
syndicated spinoff of The CW’s Beauty and the Geek, produced
by Fox 21 and Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg’s
Katalyst Media. Renegade 83—producer of oncepopular
dating shows Blind Date and Fifth Wheel—is
creating Excused, which CBS Television Distribution hopes
to syndicate. And Warner Bros. is developing a show for
VH1’s dating guru, Steve Ward, although development on
that show has been pushed back because Warner Bros. is
busy shopping its talker starring CNN’s Anderson Cooper
for fall 2011.

“Dating is a genre that’s been successful in the past, has
been rested, and now it’s ready to make a comeback,” says
Hank Cohen, CEO of Trifecta Entertainment.

Dating also has remained relatively popular both on network
and on cable. ABC’s The Bachelor
remains a reality powerhouse,
and dating has been a staple of
several cable networks, particularly
VH1, with shows such as Flavor of
Love
, I Love New York and Ochocinco:
The Ultimate Catch
.

“There’s a competition element
to dating shows in that you wonder
‘will they or won’t they?’ and then
you get an immediate answer,” says
Bert Salke, Fox 21 president. “You
can pop in, and get a beginning,
middle and end. To me, romance,
relationships and a quick answer
adds up to something that will always
be around.”

Of the three, Geek Meets Girl currently
seems most likely to end up
on the air. “It feels like it should be
cleared by the end of the year, and
then we’ll clear the smaller markets
at NATPE [in January],” says Salke.

“The show is basically an individualized
version of Beauty and
the Geek
,” says Cohen. “Each episode
is self-contained, with one
geek and one girl. They go on one
geek-centric date that the geek
chooses, and then a makeover expert comes in and makes
over the geek. Then they go on a date of the girl’s choosing.
In the end, they both decide whether they want to
see each other again.”

Salke says that syndication is attractive to Fox 21 because
the company can sell the show to TV stations but
hold on to all the intellectual property and format rights,
which is not the case in cable. For syndicators and TV
stations, dating shows represent an inexpensive way to
fill time periods.

“There may be a late-fringe opportunity for dating shows,
which is probably one reason syndicators are trying them
again,” says Bill Carroll, vice president, programming, Katz
Television Group Programming. “Syndicators are looking
for programs that are affordable to produce.”

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