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Rethinking daytime

3/31/2002 07:00:00 PM Eastern

John Nogawski, named president of Paramount Domestic Television last week, hopes his Viacom unit can turn some heads in daytime television and turn a profit at the same time.

"We are all trying to find the next format that is going to work," he said in an interview last week. "Talk shows may be going away or are on their last legs. We have to figure out what women at home are wanting to watch."

Of course, Nogawski, who joined Paramount in 1983, has a prediction about what that next trend might be: It's Paramount's new Life Moments, an unusual cinéma vérité-style one-hour daytime show featuring women's first-person accounts of moments and events in their lives that profoundly changed them. The show debuts this fall on, among others, NBC owned stations and stations in the Cox, Scripps-Howard, Hubbard Broadcasting and A.H. Belo chains.

If it works, Nogawski could be sitting pretty because talk shows from Oprah Winfrey to Sally Jessy Raphael to Rosie O'Donnell either are planning their exits or are nearly out the door.

Nogawski thinks part of syndication's problem is that, with cable, daytime "options have become wider" but broadcast television hasn't expanded the same way. "It's as if the only thing to do is throw your hands up in the air and become more and more gratuitous, or get out of the business." Life Moments,
he hopes, offers a better way to go.

He sees nothing but upside for the show, noting that its seasoned sales staff knows each other well enough that "we all talk in code here," which makes it easier for Paramount to see opportunities and solve problems.

Nogawski had been the president of distribution and was tapped for the larger post by Joel Berman, president of Paramount Worldwide Distribution, who calls Nogawski a "great leader." In his new post, Nogawski will oversee marketing, promotion, research, finance and Paramount's Advertiser Services.

March