Reg Grundy Prods. has linked with the Chris-Craft/United indie-station group and New York indie WWOR to produce 26 hours of “Dangerous Women,” a firstrun syndicated serialized drama.
WWOR, WPWR Chicago, Chris-Craft’s KCOP Los Angeles and 10 other indie stations representing more than 30% of the country have bought the series for their primetime schedules, starting the week of Aug. 5,1991.
A version of “Dangerous Women” is now running in Australia, where Grundy’s worldwide operation has its headquarters. But Bob Lloyd, senior v.p. of sales and marketing for Grundy, says the American edition will consist of all-new episodes. The series will focus on women who’ve committed crimes, served time in prison and are now trying to rebuild their lives.
“We’ve specifically expressed our concern that the producers not use scripts written by foreign writers or storylines constructed with foreign themes,” says Dirk Brinkerhoff, prexy and g.m. of KTXA Dallas, one of the stations that has bought “Women.” “We want American writers who can tap into an American background and an American ideology.”
The creator and executive producer of the U.S. version will be Reg Watson, senior v.p. of drama series for Grundy. Watson, who will start production as soon as he completes the casting, has written “Neighbours” and “Prisoner: Cell Block H,” two of Grundy’s most successful worldwide serials.
Lloyd is selling “Women” to stations for cash only (he won’t withhold any 30-second barter spots). Various sources say the cash license fees are small for the first 26 episodes, which are to run over 13 weeks. But if the show succeeds in the ratings, Grundy will be able to extract premium rates from the stations for the next 39 weeks, covering 78 additional hourlong episodes.
However, one source, who requested anonymity, says Grundy will not lose too much money even if “Women” fails because Watson will put it on tape, not film, to drive the production cost below a rock-bottom $400,000 an hour, and the show could gross upwards of $300,000 an hour in foreign sales.
“The most likely candidates for the show are the non-Fox independent stations,” says Lloyd. These stations are facing a double squeeze: The indies that have tied their fortunes to the Fox network are harvesting Nielsen bumper crops with the new primetime series from Fox; and the theatrical movies that indies have relied on for competitive primetime ratings are increasingly gravitating toward cable networks like USA and Lifetime.
But the problem for the non- Fox indies is that the production community is not turning out; new 60-minute series for firstrun syndication. These producers complain that, in most cases, they can’t cover their deficits from the revenues generated by domestic and foreign syndication. So Larry Fraiberg, the prexy of WWOR, says he may not be able to find a 9 p.m. series to lead out of “Dangerous Women” and thus be forced to run the series every week as though it were a two-hour movie.