New Entries Line Up To Play Slots

First-run strips are still in search of last-minute sales
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The industry heads to Miami for NATPE on Jan. 27 with the vast majority of TV stations’ 2014 time slots already spoken for. There are, however, still a few shows in the market for which distributors are working to finalize deals.

Several of those are talk shows, including Telco’s The Balancing Act, starring Julie Moran, Kristy Villa and Danielle Knox; Mojo Brands’ Emotional Mojo, which stars Michelle Yarn, Jada Jackson and Tara Gidus and comes from the producers of The Daily Buzz; John Tesh’s Intelligence for Your Life, which his own Tesh Media Group is producing and distributing; and Program Partners’ The Social, which comes off of CTV and stars Melissa Grelo, Cynthia Loyst, Lainey Lui and Traci Melchor.

Also potentially in the mix is Serch, a conflict talker being tested by CBS Television Distribution on eight Tribune-owned stations in major markets, including at 4 p.m. on WPIX New York. Should Tribune and CTD like the results of the four-week test—and at presstime, the verdict is so far, so good—Serch could replace CTD’s The Test on Tribune station lineups.

Two Court Shows In, Three Out

Meanwhile, there are two new court shows on the way, but they are replacing three departing entries. Entertainment Studios has added Justice With Judge Mablean to its court lineup and is canceling the low-rated We the People With Gloria Allred, which earned the awkward distinction of being the first official cancellation in Entertainment Studios’ history.

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Also departing the court lineup is Twentieth’s Judge Alex, starring Alex Ferrer, after a nine-year run. Last year, CTD’s Judge Joe Brown called it quits, leaving more legal space in stations’ afternoon blocks.

CTD had been shopping Hot Bench, a show developed by Judge Judy Sheindlin and her producers, but it’s expected to be pushed off until 2015. That’s also true for the spate of crime shows that were out in the market last fall: Warner Bros.’ True Crime Daily, CTD’s Crimesider and Debmar-Mercury’s Legal Panel starring Star Jones, which would have aired in partnership with Scripps. Legal Panel has a good chance of being resurrected in 2015, says Bob Sullivan, Scripps VP of programming.

Whether True Crime Daily or Crimesider returns to the market next year will depend on stations’ needs. Tribune this fall had been considering airing a crime-focused afternoon block, but that opportunity evaporated when the group decided to go with Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, in which Tribune became a partial owner.

Broad Appeal of ‘Name Game’

Celebrity Name Game, which stars Craig Ferguson, is based on the board game Identity and came to Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia via Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s production company, Coquette.

“It’s a game everybody already plays every day,” says Jennifer Mullin, Fremantle senior VP of current programming. “It’s part of how we talk to each other. You can’t think of the person, so you start describing them. It’s one of those shows that can be on while you are making dinner. You don’t have to be watching TV to play along.”

Beyond Celebrity Name Game, shows that are nationally sold and will premiere next fall are NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira and Warner Bros.’ The Real, which headed to market after a surprisingly successful test on Fox stations last summer.

Warner Bros. also continues to sell TMZ Live across the country, and the Fox-owned stations have picked up the program across the group for another year. And Let’s Ask America, which started as a test on Scripps-owned TV stations and is produced by Warner Bros.’ Telepictures, is being sold by MGM. Regardless of whether either of those series completes the selling season with a national clearance, both will be on the air this fall.

As for last fall’s crop of new shows, CBS has confirmed it will bring back Sony Pictures Television’s Queen Latifah for another year; CTD and Tribune are expected to renew The Arsenio Hall Show; and it’s likely that MGM will bring back Paternity Court. Whether Warner Bros. will be able to make the Bethenny economic model work well enough to bring the show back remains a question.

The industry heads to Miami for NATPE on Jan. 27 with the vast majority of TV stations’ 2014 time slots already spoken for. There are, however, still a few shows in the market for which distributors are working to finalize deals.

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