Paramount has pulled the plug on its marquee fall 2001 project, Caroline.
A studio spokesperson indicated its decision was not because Caroline was missing a key clearance in Chicago - by the end of NATPE, the show had respectably cleared 70% of the U.S., landing homes in top cities New York and Los Angeles. Instead, the spokesperson said they called it quits because "the cost of producing the show, in a manner the industry has come to expect from us, made it financially prohibitive to continue."
But the news is still odd considering Paramount made a big splash with the series at NATPE, parading around star Caroline Rhea and sending out screener tapes of the show.
Still, sources say Paramount was having problems catching adequate license fees from stations on Caroline, some of it due to difficult economic times for stations.
"They could have gotten a Chicago clearance on WPWR or WCIU, but the license fee would have been very small," said one syndication source, also pointing out similar situations in other markets that would have affected Paramount's ability to off-set production costs. "There's what's presumed to be a less than robust ad market, leading stations to make certain economic decisions. Stations have also become more conservative in taking new programming with the recent large number of high-profile failures."
The troubled Dr. Laura may have hurt Caroline's fall 2001 survival chances, with Paramount investing too much of its resources in trying to play doctor to the controversial consultant's show.
"They shot the Caroline pilot in August, but their energy was with Dr. Laura," said one source. "When they got their focus back, they were playing catch-up."
- Susanne Ault