WHY THIS MATTERS: 2019 is shaping up to be the first season with any significant new launches in first-run syndication in years.
The Fox Television Stations came closer to Frank Cicha’s dream of launching limited series year-round with the two-week run in January of Breakthrough With Dr. Steve Perry, an advice talker from CBS Television Distribution.
“We think Breakthrough has potential,” said Cicha, senior VP, programming at Fox Television Stations. “And being able to present it in January, when there isn’t much going on in syndication, makes it that much more compelling. Our goal is to deliver fresh programming year-round, so we’re glad to be working with CBS on this.”
Breakthrough’s two-week limited run will start on Jan. 7, 2019, just after everyone gets back from the holidays and settles back into work and before the annual NATPE conference in Miami, which takes place Jan. 22-24, and often serves as the deadline for show deals and launches in the first-run marketplace.
The show will air on Fox’s WNYW New York at 2 p.m.; KTTV Los Angeles at 1 p.m.; KTXH Houston at 5 p.m.; WAGA Atlanta at 2 p.m.; KUTP Phoenix at 8 p.m.; WJBK Detroit at 2 p.m.; WOFL Orlando at 2 p.m.; and WJZY Charlotte, N.C., at 10 a.m.
As the name suggests, the hour-long talk show will star Dr. Steve Perry, an educator and advocate best known for creating educational opportunities for children. As the host of his own talk show, Perry — in the vein of CTD’s top talker Dr. Phil — will offer advice and guidance to guests, helping them move from breakdown to breakthrough.
He’s got quite a bit of experience in the field, having worked to better the lives of disadvantaged children and families for 30 years. In 2005, he became founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., with the goal of providing high-quality education with college-bound opportunities for children in poverty. He also serves as an education contributor for CNN and MSNBC, a columnist for Essence magazine and host of TV One’s docudrama Save My Son, and wrote the best-selling book, Push Has Come to Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve — Even If It Means Picking a Fight.
Mixed Year-Round Results
While Cicha has long stated his interest in keeping his station lineups fresh with new programming year-round, winter tests haven’t worked as well as summer tests thus far. Shows such as a talker starring Fran Drescher, which Fox and Debmar-Mercury tested around Thanksgiving 2010, and last March’s The Raw Word with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, which aired on Sinclair Broadcast Group stations, flopped pretty quickly. Like Dyson, Perry is looking to tap into the African-American audience that indexes highly in daytime.
Breakthrough joins several other shows that are in the mix for a fall 2019 debut. The two highest-profile of those feature Kelly Clarkson from NBCUniversal and Tamron Hall from Disney-ABC. Both of those shows were announced in September, which is considered early, and neither has announced additional clearances.
Tribune Media and Sony Pictures Television have announced a talk-show starring motivational speaker and radio host Mel Robbins. That show will be executive produced by Mindy Borman, the former executive producer of Dr. Oz.
Warner Bros. is still shopping a talk show starring RuPaul, with hopes that the Fox Television Stations will ultimately pick it up, since NBC and ABC have made their choices. NBCU is offering a court show starring Jerry Springer, whose talk show went out of production last spring and is now airing in repeats on The CW in the afternoon and on some TV stations.
Debmar-Mercury has several shows in the works, including a comedic panel talker starring Saturday Night Live’s Finesse Mitchell and Mom’s Jaime Pressly and a single-host talk show starring Jerry O’Connell, who has successfully subbed in on such shows as Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Ryan and Debmar-Mercury’s own Wendy Williams. Debmar-Mercury also is working on an entertainment magazine strip, Central Avenue, with Will Packer Media, as well as partnering with Packer on a one-hour drama for OWN called Ambitions due to debut next year.
This year, the only two new first-run shows to launch are CTD’s Face the Truth, starring Vivica A. Fox amid a panel of strong and opinionated women, and Debmar-Mercury’s Caught in Providence, starring Providence, R.I.’s Judge Frank Caprio. Face the Truth is averaging a 0.8 in households after eight weeks on the air, according to Nielsen, while Caught in Providence is averaging a 0.6 in households after six weeks.