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Wattleton talker in limbo

Tribune Entertainment has yet to announce any station clearances for “The Faye Wattleton Show,” the proposed January 1993 daytime talkshow strip hosted by the former Planned Parenthood prez.

The lack of any deals two months prior to the program’s planned launch has spurred speculation the show may be delayed beyond January or scrapped entirely.

Trib’s sales force, however, has been out over the past several weeks hawking a pilot but have failed to wrap any deals.

The performance of other syndie series during the remaining three weeks of the November sweeps “will determine a lot about our standing in the marketplace, ” said Jim Corboy, Trib’s VP of creative services.

The exec emphasized that Trib is “proceeding in terms of a launch.”

But prospects appear slim that any of the existing talkshows– including Trib’s “Joan Rivers,” Group W’s “Vicki!” and Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” and “Jane Whitney”–will fade away by January, according to Jack Fentress, programming VP for Petry National Television.

Trib would not gain from CBS’ plan to give back an hour to affiliates either, since the web is holding off until next summer.

NBC, meanwhile, is reportedly in the final stages of its deal to acquire Paramount’s new Leeza Gibbons/John Tesh talker (Daily Variety, Oct. 4), which would eliminate a number of valuable openings on the Peacock web (Par and Tesh finally concluded a deal late last week).

And many ABC affils have claimed an extra half-hour cut out of the “Home” show for local news.

Confronted by these obstacles, Fentress and others expressed doubts that Trib would be able to get the show off the ground in January. “I don’t see where it (Wattleton) will go,” he said.

One option is the Tribune-owned stations, which cover the major markets. That would permit the sister company to provide the show with a slow market rollout, enabling Trib to go after the CBS affils in the fall–if the available slots are already not occupied by shows from the powerhouse syndicators King World (peddling “Les Brown”) and Twentieth TV (selling “Bertice Berry”).

Angling for position

As reported, Twentieth turned down an NBC deal to acquire “Berry” for an estimated $ 15 million-$ 20 million in order to put the shows on the Fox-owned stations.

Sources close to the company said Fox chief Rupert Murdoch overrode Twentieth TV chairwoman Lucie Salhany’s desire to make the network deal.

Murdoch reportedly made the move to enhance the news and information image he wants to create for his own Fox-owned stations, which acquired the program.

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