2011 Syndie Scene Hardly Settled

Fox 21/Trifecta shops new dating show; Warner Bros. back-burners two projects
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It remains to be seen whether Anderson Cooper could be a game-changer for first-run syndication, but the project has definitely shaken up some other plans.

At Warner Bros. alone, the arrival of Cooper is forcing a rearranging of priorities. Shows in development— including one featuring Loveline’s Dr. Drew Pinsky and another featuring dating guru Steve Ward—are both now on the back burner. Both shows remain potential offerings, although with Warner Bros. preoccupied with Cooper’s project, neither show is expected to make it on the air by next fall.

The dating genre is also poised to make a comeback, with Fox 21 and Trifecta Entertainment working on a program titled Geek Meets Girl. If Ward’s show, tentatively titled Tough Love, ended up going forward, the dating genre would suddenly be reconstituted. The last dating shows went off the air in 2006, when Universal’s Blind Date and Telepictures’ elimiDATE were cancelled.

As for Cooper, Warner Bros. is pitching the CNN host as a replacement program for CBS Television Distribution’s Oprah, which ends its storied run after this season. Many stations already have determined how they will fill the slot, but programming decisions can be flexible. Warner Bros. executives believe they can convince stations to instead give Anderson Cooper a try.

“He’s going to be on the air,” said one person close to the deal. “I think that changes the equation.”

“History tells you that a ‘name’ is going to get cleared,” says Bill Carroll, vice president, programming, Katz Television Group Programming. “A news person or a newsrelated program is going to get cleared. It will get on, and it will make it difficult for anything else to get on.”

But many other shows, particularly one-hour talk strips, remain in development.

Harpo Studios is still said to be developing a talk show featuring frequent Oprah guest Jenny Mc- Carthy that Sony would distribute. Harpo has syndication’s best track record when it comes to launching first-run talk, with Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, Dr. Oz and now Nate Berkus (the latter two with Sony) all up and running.

Jay McGraw, executive producer of CTD’s The Doctors, continues to develop The Lawyers, which CTD would distribute. With CBS opting to launch The Talk in the open As the World Turns time slot, the CTD project featuring Valerie Bertinelli and Rove McManus appears dead. Bertinelli also is busy with her new sitcom, TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.

Debmar-Mercury is shopping a talker featuring British host Jeremy Kyle that’s already partly sold but is still seeking clearances in the biggest markets. Kyle isn’t expected to compete with Cooper for time slots since the two shows are being targeted at different types of stations. Debmar- Mercury also is working on a test with producer ITV Studios called The Chefs.

And Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s personable Ty Pennington and his management team is shopping a talk strip created around him.

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA

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