Controversial Anna Nicole Smith Judge Larry Seidlin has committed to develop a fall 2008 court show with CBS Television Distribution (CTD), according to multiple industry sources.
CTD declined to comment Tuesday about the judge, who has resigned his seat on the Florida circuit family court effective at the end of July.
But Seidlin, who could not be reached for comment, is expected to tape a pilot or sales presentation July 2-3 in Los Angeles.
As first reported by B&C (April 2), Seidlin has been meeting over the past few months with various program distributors to discuss a long-term deal.
CTD has been considered the favorite to land him, given its status as the industry’s leading court show supplier. It already has the No. 1 and 2 programs in the crowded genre with Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown.
If CTD picks up Seidlin’s new court series after seeing the pilot, the company is believed to have the best chance of providing him with stronger afternoon time periods in many markets. That would likely give the new TV judge higher ratings than many of the other judge shows slotted earlier in the day.
Seidlin becomes the latest high-profile name to enter the fall 2008 first-run syndication mix, with programmers looking toward new court, talk, and game show prospects.
The return to a wider array of more attention-grabbing shows comes in the wake of a lackluster development season for this fall. Stations are hungry for new product after watching many first-run series falter in recent years and ratings dive for a spate of costly and aging off-net sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond.
Other big names on tap for next year are Howie Mandel, who has reportedly signed to host the syndicated version of NBC Universal’s hit prime time game show, Deal or No Deal; and actress-comedienne Bonnie Hunt, who has a development deal for a talk show at Telepictures. Hunt was thought to be scheduled to tape her pilot last Thursday, but that is now expected to come later.
Seidlin, who became a media figure with his emotional ruling on where Smith should be buried, cited his commitment “to helping my fellow citizens through roles in the educational system, the media and non-profit organizations” in his resignation letter posted Tuesday on TMZ.com.
Media reports following the Smith trial in March indicated that Seidlin had been inundated with at least 200 phone inquiries from TV recruiters, including CBS' weekend Early Show, and publishers during and after the televised proceedings.