Studios USA Domestic Television
ATV show that can make a grown man cry has
to be something worth watching, right? That's what Steve Rosenberg, president of Studios USA Domestic Television, was asking himself when he was trying to decide whether he could get something as unusual as Sci Fi Channel's Crossing Over With John Edward
to work in syndication.
"There's not a lot of people talking to the dead out there," remarks Rosenberg, referring to the show's star John Edward, a psychic medium who communicates dead relatives' thoughts to their surviving family members. "And if they are, they aren't really talking about it."
Yet Rosenberg recognized Crossing Over's
worth. After 12 weeks on the air, the half-hour show has fattened its audience (761,000) by 50%, making it Sci Fi's highest-rated late-night show. Plus, two years ago, when Edward was promoting his book One Last Time
on Larry King Live, the show's switchboard was literally blown out by the volume of calls his segment generated. He also remembers "the moment he was sold."
While vacationing with his family, Rosenberg ran into a buddy, "this big, macho guy, who's a football coach for a Long Island high school," he recalls. "He asks me, 'Have you seen this thing, John Edward? 'I look at him and say 'Yeah.' Then he just starts crying, his eyes start welling up."
Eventually, the man tells Rosenberg that he and his wife recently lost their son in a school-bus accident. They decided to visit Edward at his private practice in New York, which he runs in addition to his duties on Crossing Over.
"The story is that their son always wanted to get a malamute breed of dog, but they never wanted to get him one because they thought they'd end up having to take care of it," says Rosenberg. "But after their son died, they bought the dog for their other two kids. Well, the first thing John says to them is 'Thanks for buying the dog.' There's no way John would have known that."
Bonnie Hammer, executive vice president and general manager of Sci Fi Channel, agrees: "I can't tell you how many skeptics and nonbelievers have been turned around by John. He is believable. There's no voodoo or hocus-pocus."
She is just as supportive of Crossing Over's
leap into syndication. The show will keep its current time slot on the Sci Fi channel but should also deliver a big syndicated audience in daytime because it "has brought in large [numbers] of females." Hammer believes that's an important accomplishment and that it shows just how special the program is. Why? Late night television tends to skew towards male audiences, and often aren't created to attract the female viewer. "Women who watch are awestruck when they walk away," she adds. "The guys just won't admit it."
Each episode of Crossing Over
features Edward giving psychic readings to people randomly taken from a New York studio audience. Occasionally, celebrities have gotten readings, too. Crossing Over
will be available to broadcast stations as a single half-hour or as a back-to-back hour block. It is executive produced by Shirley Abraham, Dana Calderwood and Charles Nordlander of Glow in the Dark Productions.
For Rosenberg the program is about more than seeing whether Edward can tap into spirits on "the other side" successfully.
"It's not about whether you believe or don't believe he's talking to someone from the other side," says Rosenberg. "It's about that moment he connects with someone that changes their lives forever."
Show: Crossing Over With John Edward
Studio/Distributor: Glow In the Dark Productions/Studios USA Domestic
Barter: cash plus 1.5/5.5
Debut: Fall 2001