Fox will cease production on Twentieth Television's syndicated Geraldo at Large in mid-January, with a weekend version of the show, At Large with Geraldo Rivera, returning to Fox News Channel (FNC).
The move greatly strengthens the chances that Warner Bros. will gain a clearance this fall for its new celebrity magazine series based on the TMZ.com website that Time Warner owns, since it is geared toward the same early and late fringe slots that Geraldo had appeared in on the Fox stations.
In the meantime, Fox is expected to carry additional runs of off-network sitcoms in the time slots.
The magazine show was averaging a 1.6 rating season-to-date, not enough to justify its hefty production budget, which was estimated to be $500,000-$1 million per week. FNC is expected to absorb a majority Rivera’s forty person staff, which was informed of the decision at a meeting Thursday.
Geraldo At Large had a slow roll out last season on the Fox stations and went into national syndication this fall. FNC will return Rivera’s show to Saturday and Sunday evenings in a yet to be determined time slot.
In an announcement, FNC said the move is part of a new multi-year deal between Rivera and the cable network.
The series marked the first syndicated entry for Roger Ailes, chairman-CEO of Fox News, after adding duties as chairman of the Fox Television Stations. Ailes noted that in addition to hosting his signature program, Rivera will continue to make guest appearances on The O'Reilly Factor and serve as a correspondent at large during major breaking news events.
"Geraldo is a great talent and did a tremendous job for us in syndication,” Ailes said. “His ratings were climbing in several markets, including New York. However, with the soft ad marketplace, the lack of an early news lead-in for his show in several cities and the timeline for financial success, I've asked him to come back to Fox News Channel. We look forward to bringing his special journalistic skills back to FNC."
Added Rivera, "I'm proud to work for Roger and I'm a team player. Fox News Channel is the best outfit in the business and the new deal allows me to cover breaking news and work with one of the most talented group of reporters in the world. Roger and I go back decades and I want to thank him for another great opportunity.”
Rivera joined FNC in 2001 as a war correspondent.