Fox TV stations in seven markets are planning a six-week test of a new syndicated show from Twentieth Television titled Wedlock or Deadlock, starting Monday, July 20.
The show is based on a Divorce Court segment in which couples would get in-show counseling. In Wedlock or Deadlock, Dr. Michelle R. Callahan, psychologist and life coach, will determine whether struggling couples should marry or move on. In some cases, couples will tie the knot or break up right on the spot, says Bob Cook, president and COO of Twentieth Television.
“Instead of being about two people who hate each other, this show is about two people who are in love but who have some issues with each other,” says Cook. “That provides the humor and the conflict.”
Beyond Callahan’s counseling sessions, many of the show’s couples will also undergo lie detector tests, compatibility tests and financial counseling, depending on their issues.
“Michelle has the power to either tear up the wedding license or to hand it to them and wish them well,” says Cook.
Wedlock or Deadlock will be tested on Fox owned stations in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa, Phoenix, Orlando and Memphis. The show will mostly air on Fox stations and not My Network stations, except possibly in Orlando, says Frank Cicha, senior vice president of programming for the Fox Television Stations.
Cicha is looking at possibly pairing the show with the group’s new talk show, Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, in some markets and put in the middle of court blocks in others.
“We felt like it would be compatible with both court and talk, and we have a lot of both in our line-ups,” Cicha said.
“These time periods are pretty teed up with solid lead-ins and lead-outs. If we like what we see, our friends at Twentieth will have a great sales pitch.”
With at least five court shows going off the air this fall, and the genre down 24% year to year, the once-popular genre is in need of some reinvention. Wedlock or Deadlock takes the formula out of the court room and gives it a twist. Another new court show, Litton’s Street Court coming this fall, brings participants to the scene of the crime in search of resolution.
Dave Brown, who previously executive produced Twentieth’s cancelled Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, will serve as executive producer. Other executive producers include Mark Koberg, EP of Divorce Court, and Lynn Toler, Divorce Court’s judge and star. Stephen Brown, Twentieth’s head of development, was instrumental in developing the show.