“The Crusaders,” a 3-month-old weekly advocacy series dedicated to solving the problems of the little guy, has brought in a crusader of its own.

Former “Current Affair” exec producer John Terenzio has jumped on board as a consultant through the February sweeps to help the Buena Vista Television show metamorphose into a nightly newsmag strip.

Newsroom concern

The presence of Terenzio has apparently led to some concern in “The Crusaders” newsroom that the program could start looking more like “Affair” than “60 Minutes.” (Former “60 Minutes” vet Grace Diekhaus had been the show’s only consultant.)

But Amy Sacks, senior VP of Buena Vista Prods., praised the work of Terenzio, saying the veteran producer is credited with boosting the ratings of “Affair” while toning down the show’s tabloid content.

Terenzio, who turned down the job of exec producer when the show was in development because of family commitments in Florida, also has a background in serious news.

Before leaving the granddaddy of TV tabs last March after a 15-month stint, he produced news specials for both NBC and ABC and served as news director of WPLG-TV in Miami.

The task facing Terenzio and exec producer John Butte is to make “The Crusaders” more “compelling” and “commercial,” says Sacks, who notes that the show has received a favorable response from the public and that BVTV execs are proud of it.

But she says it will have to look “a lot different” to become a five- or six-day-a-week access strip in the highly competitive syndication business.

For starters, the program — which takes credit for saving lives, recovering pensions and generally helping people out of dire straits — now has the pacing of an hour show. Each episode features three major stories as well as short segments.

Although Terenzio is primarily focusing on the segments, Sacks acknowledges that cosmetic concerns will also have to be addressed. She expects the current four-anchor format to be reduced.

Once the creative elements are addressed and the confidence level rises, BVTV execs will have to look at ratings in deciding whether to proceed to a strip.

With access space tight for next fall, BVTV will likely have to keep the series going as a weekly for another year before rolling it out as a fall 1995 strip.

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