Fox's Twentieth Television President Bob Cook is putting the final touches on three new first-run strips he is bringing to NATPE: a revamped version of the tabloid A Current Affair; an infotainment show hosted by personal-finance expert Suze Orman; and a court show featuring Alex Ferrer, a criminal-court judge from Miami. That is more than any other syndicator had announced for next season.
As head of Twentieth Television, it is Cook's job to come up with first-run shows for stations owned by Fox. “It's always our mission to develop and produce for the O&Os. They've got such an incredible appetite,” says Cook, 55. “Our first order of business is to take care of the O&Os.”
That is common practice for syndicators affiliated with the Big Four networks. Critics say that reducing competition among studios has stymied innovation. Cook disagrees. “We're developing programs, we're testing them as best we can,” he says. “We take them out and incubate them on our television stations.”
Prior to Twentieth, Cook held positions with CBS Enterprises and its predecessor, Eyemark Entertainment, overseeing Martha Stewart Living and other shows. He has also held senior positions with Columbia TriStar Television Distribution (now Sony Pictures Television) and Guber-Peters Television
Besides the new shows in the incubator, Cook's Twentieth has a full catalog. He also sells Ambush Makeover, Texas Justice, Good Day Live, The Simpsons, The Bernie Mac Show, Malcolm in the Middle, The Practice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files. Twentieth is also test running two reality strips—Live Like a Star and Design Invasion. That mix makes the job more fun, says Cook, who believes he has benefited from a creative background and experience in sales and marketing. “That's sort of a unique blend. It's suited me well for this business.”