Winning over the long haul


It has to be tough keeping viewers excited about long-running shows year after year, but Columbia TriStar Television Distribution seems to be holding viewer attention with
, currently in its eighth season.

The studio points to an 80% failure rate for 122 first-run strips that have debuted during
's tenure. "People have come and gone," says studio chief Steve Mosko, "but

has continued to evolve."

For this season through Nov. 12,

has a 2.3 rating among women 18-34 (according to Nielsen Media Research), placing it third among all talk shows-behind

(3.2) and
Jerry Springer


For October,

was tops in its time period among women 18-34 in the three largest markets: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In one instance in the New York market, running at 5 p.m. on WWOR-TV ,

(3.0) beat out WABC-TV 's local news (1.8), WPIX 's
7th Heaven

(1.3) and WNBC 's local news (1.3).

"While we're certainly in the business of developing new programs, we do everything we can to make sure that

works. There's nothing else like her on television," says Mosko. "This is the backbone of our original programming."

CTTD's commitment has meant beefing up the show's Web site and "making sure the show really speaks to viewers," says Senior Vice President of Reality Programming Melanie Chilek.

Involved in such community programs as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Project Cuddle (which aids pregnant women), Chilek and Ricki Lake work to incorporate topics they feel are relevant.

A couple weeks ago, the narcotics unit of San Francisco's police department asked for a copy of a

episode that focused on the dangers of date-rape drugs, to use as part of its officer-training program. "We make boldly entertaining programming," says Chilek, "but we're also able to produce stuff that has social value to our audience."