Universal has struck sparks between singles with its relationship strip
and has fired up flirtation from several competing syndicators.
On deck for possible fall 2001 launches are Paramount's
Rendez-View, pitched as a cross between
Politically Incorrect; Columbia TriStar's
Shipmates, described as
Blind Date; and Warner Bros.'
Elimidate, which is sort of a beefed-up
(one guy or gal with four potential suitors).
Everyone knows that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but can
stand up to the new competition next year?
"Usually, the first in the genre survives," says Katz TV's Bill Carroll. "It's the survival of the imitators that's something to look out for."
It's true that no one has knocked
off their No. 1 perch, but relationship shows sometimes follow a different pattern. "
got on the air, but after [Warner Bros.']
Change of Heart
didn't return," remembers Carroll.
However, the overriding sense from stations is "they're placing
as the primary show and positioning the others as its complements," he says.
is still on good terms with stations, Universal is mounting a strike against new rivals with its own companion to
The Fifth Wheel. Hosted by comic Aisha Tyler and produced by
producers David Garfinkle, Jay Renfroe and Thomas Klein,
puts two guys and two gals into a limo, later introducing a fifth person into the group date.
"This could possibly be an ex, who upsets the romantic binds that have started to form," says Matt Cooperstein, Universal Worldwide Television's senior vice president of domestic distribution.
No deals have been announced for the show, currently being shopped to stations, "but the reception for it has been extremely positive," he says.
And all of these Cupid's arrows flying around haven't exactly punctured Cooperstein's spirit. "
was a hit in a new genre, so we knew there was going to be [more spins on the format]. But we were the first mover in the genre, and we'll be the second mover with
The Fifth Wheel."
Ned Nalle, president of Universal Worldwide Television, believes the rollout of
will echo the studio's launch of
Xena: Warrior Princess
as a companion to
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In 1998, Studios USA acquired the action hours, but Universal still sells them overseas.
"As we told [
producers], we told [
Garfinkle, Renfroe and Klein] that we need to evolve the form for creative and defensive reasons," says Nalle. "And they have. We are taking
to the next threshold."
Now in its sophomore season,
has secured such recent upgrades as a double run at 5:30 p.m. on KBHK-TV San Francisco and a second airing at 12:30 a.m. on KPRC-TV Houston.