Mandel Out of Syndie Deal For Now


A deal by NBC Universal to bring Howie Mandel to a prospective 30-minute syndicated edition of Deal or No Deal has collapsed, according to people familiar with the situation.

NBC U declined to comment on talent negotiations late last week. It is believed to have revived talks with Mandel, host of the hot hour-long network game show, after parting ways with Arsenio Hall, who was originally slated for the syndication role (B&C, Nov. 20).

But NBC U could yet still come to terms with Mandel if it is willing to meet what is believed to a hefty asking price, since having him as host could make the show an easier sell to a station launch group like Fox.

Stations have refused to commit to the project until they see a host. Comic actor Mark Curry has also been mentioned as a candidate.

With Deal on the backburner for the moment, the fate of Joker’s Wild and Combination Lock remained up in the air last week. A spokesman for distributor King World, now under the CBS Television Distribution Group banner, denied rumors the game shows are dead due to lack of sufficient time periods, saying a decision has yet to be made.

Twentieth Television is also considering game shows for fall, though whether the market can support any more beyond the four successful quizzers currently on the air—King World’s Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, Buena Vista Television’s Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and Fremantle’s Family Feud—remains to be seen.

Overall, no new first-run projects for fall have been sold yet. Warner Bros. and Telepictures, however, may be getting close to rolling out a TMZ magazine project.

Warner Bros. declined to comment, but to succeed it would need to obtain sizeable license fees with late afternoon, access and late fringe clearances. The Fox O&Os are considered a prime candidate for the series, though Tribune may have some interest in it too.

To get it on the air by fall, some station executives think the pilot would need to be tweaked to make it more like the celebrity gossip Website and less like former magazine Celebrity Justice.

With its focus on the magazine and building its existing chat shows, Warner Bros. has dropped other development projects. Poor selling prospects for talk after three of four rookies failed to surpass a 1 rating this season led Warner Bros. to drop a show featuring Latina magazine creator Christy Haubegger.

But that project may come back even though Warner Bros. has passed on its “first look” deal with producer and former top WB, NBC and Fox executive Garth Ancier (Ricki).

The studio has the option to retain an economic interest in Christy—and possibly even distribute it—if Ancier succeeds in convincing one of several major broadcast launch groups that the fast-rising Hispanic population would embrace it. A decision could come soon after station groups review their November sweeps numbers.