‘Hall’ slot slugfest heats up

The battlefield for “The Arsenio Hall Show’s” timeslots is getting more crowded, with some syndicators of daytime talkers and prime access tabloid shows angling to get TV stations to double-run their shows in the late fringe time period.

Warners Bros. has confirmed it is hoping to land more double runs of “Jenny Jones” for late fringe.

“If stations want to double-run ‘Jenny Jones,’ we think it’s a great idea, particularly in early fringe and latenight,” said Dick Robertson, president, Warner Bros. Domestic Distribution.

Double-running talkshows is nothing new, but the opening up of an hour in late fringe could either give a boost to a struggling talker or add momentum to a successful tabloid show.

Twentieth Television is planning to push its stations that are not already double-running “A Current Affair” and “Cops” to do so. Twentieth TV is not expected to make a similar push for its struggling talker “Bertice Berry.”

All these shows fighting for extra runs will have to face off against new late-fringe product from Columbia TriStar Television (“The Newz”) and MCA (“Last Call”), as well as Paramount’s “Arsenio” replacement, which is said to be MTV talker “The Jon Stewart Show” (Daily Variety, April 19).

Par execs still refuse to confirm that Stewart is their “Arsenio” replacement , but station rep firms in New York say the studio has told them that they will be around within two weeks to pitch “Stewart.”

“It’s kind of dicey for Paramount, saying they have this giant guy from MTV that the people who will buy the show have never heard of,” one station rep executive said.

Launching a new show in “Arsenio’s” timeslot won’t be easy. Many “Arsenio” stations that have deals with Columbia/TriStar or MCA for their late fringe products gave them first crack at “Arsenio’s” timeslot if the talker quit or was canceled.

There is also concern that while Paramount execs probably knew months ago that “Arsenio Hall” would not return, they did not have a replacement ready to go in his place.

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