Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions is teaming up with The Food Network to produce a pilot for a new fall 2006 syndicated lifestyle project featuring the cable network’s Rachael Ray, which will be distributed by King World and carried by the Scripps Howard stations (whose Scripps Networks parent owns a majority stake in Food Network), sources say.
King World may carve out a window for Ray’s syndicated series on The Food Network, which carries her popular cooking shows.
Winfrey has been working to develop a strip for King World the past two years, reportedly eying well-liked interior designer Nate Berkus and Trading Spaces host Paige Davis for projects that have yet to go anywhere.
Sources say Harpo believes that Berkus is not ready to carry his own show yet. The Davis project may have been entirely scrapped. As with the others, Ray has also been a guest on Winfrey’s talk show and has contributed to her magazine.
Reps for Harpo and Food Network did not return calls seeking comment by press time, and King World declined to comment.
King World, which has enjoyed success distributing top-tier first-run and off-network shows, has been less successful with its own projects for daytime, including disappointments with Roseanne Barr and, in its last at bat, Living it Up! with Ali & Jack.
It is not known yet whether Tribune, which owns a 31% stake in Food Network, would also sign on to carry the show.
The station group recently struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television, which is producing three first-run pilots for Tribune, including another version of a talk show with Howard Stern sidekick Robyn Quivers that failed to gain traction this past selling season.
Tribune, which will lose off-network episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond to Fox when its second cycle starts in 2008, is in desperate need of first-run product given the lack of A-list sitcoms out there to replace Raymond.
Tribune is expected to give serious attention to the upcoming off-network sitcom, Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men.