A guy who talks to the dead, some sexy singles, Dick Clark, and not a gavel in sight. One thing going for this fall's crop of first-run syndicated efforts is diversity, although relationship reality seems to be the flavor of the fall.
Here's a walk through first run's new major players.
(see page 23)
The Ananda Lewis Show
(debuts Sept.10)—When King World launches a talk show, especially one to be steered by an African-American woman, comparisons to Oprah
are inevitable. But "that's always a compliment," says Ananda
Executive Producer Mary Duffy. "It's a wonderful standard to live up to in daytime."
The Other Half
(debuts Sept. 10)—Here's what separates this ensemble show, starring Dick Clark among others, from last year's star-crossed Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? according to Executive Producer Susan Winston: "That was about men and women sort of arguing with each other. Ours is men really trying to understand the world of women." Producers say co-host Danny Bonaduce, who has talked openly about substance abuse, is ready to go after checking himself in for a two-week stay in rehab.
Crossing Over With John Edward
(debuts August 27)—This show is crossing over from Sci-Fi Channel, which will continue to air it. That said, a show about contacting the dead is nothing if not a change of pace for first run. "This isn't derivative of anything we've seen on TV," says Crossing Over
Executive Producer Paul Shavelson.
(debuts Sept. 17)—"Noooo," this isn't Chains of Love
without the chains, says Alex Duda, executive producer of the show, in which four singles are whittled down to one romantic match. "We're not playing this for forced drama. This show is light, upbeat, and we're going for laughs."
The 5th Wheel
(debuts Oct. 1)—This show is from the creators of Blind Date, whose success arguably started the dating-strip rage. That, says Universal chief of domestic syndication, Matt Cooperstein, gives The 5th Wheel
"a leg up."
(debuts Sept. 17)—What should get the girls and
guys watching a dating show? Have Whose Line Is It Anyway?
comic Greg Proops comment on the action à la NFL commentator John Madden. "He'll absolutely have you on the floor," promises Greg Meidel, programming chief at Paramount Domestic Television.
(debuts Sept. 17)—Winning a high-profile 3 p.m. slot on Los Angeles' KCBS-TV, Shipmates—
think Blind Date
on a boat—could open the floodgates for reality in daytime. Melanie Chilek, chief of reality programming at Columbia TriStar, is happy to be a guinea pig.
Talk or Walk
(debuts Sept. 17)—Viewers will get to see all types of couples, not just romantically involved ones, try to sort out their problems. "So it's much broader than a lot of the dating shows in late fringe," says Dick Askin, president of Tribune Entertainment.
(debuts Sept. 17)—You'll get the best of game and reality, asserts Executive Producer Jim Coane. Players can advance if they guess correct outcomes to video clips featuring people in various dilemmas. "It's 'gamertainment,'" says Coane.
(debuts week of Oct. 1)—Starring characters out of Marvel Comics and coming from the people who delivered
The X-Men, Mutant X
could come with a built-in audience. Also, the market for action hours is "shaking out," says Tribune Entertainment President Dick Askin.
(debuts week of Oct. 15)—"There has probably never been a better time to launch an action hour," says Lions Gate distribution head Ira Bernstein, of his show, which stars Highlander's Adrian Paul as an alien living on Earth.
(debuts week of Sept. 17)—MTV meets Ebert & Roeper at the Movies: That's something that hasn't been done, claims Paramount's Greg Meidel. Today's core movie-going audience is the advertiser-friendly, adult 18-34 demo, also Hot Ticket's target.