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‘Star’ strip to fizzle in January

Television Program Enterprises will cease production on the new 30-minute strip version of “Star Search” at the end of January, insiders confirmed Friday.

The action, which had been expected (Daily Variety, Oct. 22), came after KCBS-TV signed its death warrant by downgrading the program from its 7:30 p.m. access weeknight berth to 1:30 a.m.

In its place, the Los Angeles O&O will install All American TV’s “Family Feud” starting today. The gameshow will face the daunting task of trying to salvage the station’s performance in the November sweeps.

With “Search” and “You Bet Your Life,” KCBS has fallen from first to worst in access. The station previously carried King World’s powerhouse strips “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” which have moved to KABC-TV this season.

Los Angeles represented the best clearance for “Search,” which is the first frosh syndie strip of the new season to be canceled.

Without an access slot in the nation’s No. 2 TV market, the barter program could not survive.

When its fate became known, a high-stakes waiting game ensued between KCBS and TPE.

Because the station acted first, it will most likely have to cover the costs for the first 26 weeks of the license fee–allowing TPE to recover at least some of its investment.

The decision to take “Search” to a strip format this season raised some eyebrows, with concerns expressed about whether the talent format would work six days a week.

There were also fears about possible damage to the weekly show, which has long been a big franchise for the syndicator. The doubts proved unfounded, however.

In the most recent Nielsen national syndication rankings, the nightly 30 -minute version of the show scored a paltry 1.4 rating in 72% of the country. It finished in 80th place for the week ended Oct. 18.

The weekend edition, meanwhile, ranked 21st with a healthy 4.2 rating in 93% of the U.S.

TPE will continue to produce the original one-hour weekend edition, with new episodes of the hour weekly show airing from January to May.

The distributor has launched strips in two out of the past three seasons. Its last effort, “Preview: The Best of the New,” was doomed from the start.

The company had attempted to secure an access berth on KABC-TV by hiring the station’s Chuck Henry as a co-host, but found its series relegated to the wee hours of the morning.

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