This may be the slowest syndie development season on record. Only two shows so far have gotten a greenlight: Warner Bros.' Tyra Banks and Twentieth's Judge Alex. Twentieth is deciding whether Judge Alex will be a test rollout on the Fox owned stations or a national launch.
“Young women today have no bias toward network TV, so stations need to buy franchises to attract them,” says Jim Paratore, executive vice president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and president of Telepictures Productions.
That franchise, he says, is Banks. According to a Nielsen study, some 90% of women who watched Banks' America's Next Top Model on UPN watch daytime TV. Of those, 56% watch Oprah, where Banks has been a regular contributor, and 85% watch other daytime shows.
Paratore expects Banks' new talk show, which kicks off next year, to get time slots in daytime and early fringe, possibly even landing a coveted 5 p.m. on Fox and UPN stations. The show, like Warner Bros.' Ellen, also will have a corresponding cable run.
As for Twentieth, the syndicator says it's time for a new court show. “We decided
to roll Judge Alex out because court shows are still the healthiest genre in daytime,” says Robb Dalton, president of programming and production. Even as syndication pares down the number of launches, court shows thrive. Paramount's Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown are as strong as ever.
For now, syndicators are waiting to see what time periods open. Although NBC Universal is keeping mum, most don't expect The Jane Pauley Show to be renewed. That leaves many plum slots available, and NBC U doesn't appear to have a project to take its place. Insiders say NBC U's pilot with Isaac Mizrahi is dead, but the syndicator is considering a show with actress Vanessa Williams.
There are no more confirmations for 2005, but companies are in development. Twentieth may reincarnate tabloid access magazine A Current Affair. Paramount did a pilot with ET correspondent Steven Cojocaru, and Tribune has shot one episode of a remake of Real People, hosted by Mario Lopez. Buena Vista has a development deal with designer Vera Wang but first wants to see if Tony Danza earns upgrades for his chatfest.