A strong development season has generated a raft of promising pilots for the 1995-96 season in firstrun syndication, and the programming executives at the Katz Media Group are recommending at least 14 new series to their TV station clients.
Two five-a-weekers, Twentieth TV’s “America’s Most Wanted: Final Justice” and MGM TV’s “LAPD,” lead Katz’s list of recommendations. They stand out mainly because some of the stations that buy them will schedule one or both at the prime-access time periods of 7 or 7:30 p.m., the most lucrative locally programmed slots on network affiliates.
Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz, says the marketing plan of “Most Wanted” gives it a better shot at access because it’s holding back only three 30-second spots in each half-hour for sale to national advertisers.
MGM is carving out five 30s, which many stations will find too high a barter load to give up in key timeslots like access, Carroll says. Strong advertiser demand is currently pushing up the value of these spots. MGM’s argument is that it has to ask for five 30s because stations are not paying any cash for the show. Twentieth is charging cash license fees in addition to the three 30s.
Katz is also endorsing three other high-visibility strips, starting with two daytime talkshow hours: Warner Bros. Domestic TV’s “Carnie,” hosted by the singer Carnie Wilson and geared for the young women who dote on Ricki Lake’s successful talkshow; and Rysher Entertainment’s “George and Alana,” a clone of “Regis & Kathie Lee” in which George Hamilton and Alana Stewart will engage in “casual morning chatter, salted with celeb and author interviews, funny cooking and animal bits,” according to Ruth Lee, a programming VP with Katz’s Continental division.
Third is the latenight hour of comedy talk, “Stephanie Miller” from Buena Vista TV. A standup comedian and radio talkshow host out of Los Angeles, Miller, says Lee, is “quick-witted and creative” and “appears to be comfortable interacting with her guests, staff and audience.”
Three other strips come with qualified recommendations.
Seagull Entertainment’s new sitcom strip “Beverly Hills Beach Club” and the reruns of Rysher Entertainment’s “California Dreams,” a Saturday-noontime series that kicked off on NBC in the fall of 1992, are for use “only by independent and Fox stations in those same time periods where ‘Saved by the Bell’ has been successful,” namely between 4 and 6 p.m., says Katz’s Bill Hall.
As for the third strip in this qualified category, Katz’s Greg Conklin says that if stations need an extra morning cartoon show, Turner Program Services’ new “Flintstones” half-hours are the way to go.
Six once-a-week action hours – five of them first-run and the sixth, Genesis Entertainment’s “Tales from the Crypt,” off-HBO and Fox – get the nod from John von Soosten, VP of programming for Katz Independent.
All American TV’s “Baywatch Nights,” starring David Hasselhoff in a spinoff of the hit “Baywatch” series, “should make a winner,” says von Soosten, for “all stations in weekend access or early fringe, and for independents as part of a primetime checkerboard.”
For “Outer Limits,” MGM TV’s remake of the golden sci-fi oldie, von Soosten says all stations could play it after 11 p.m. Von Soosten says he likes the rating performance of “Tales from the Crypt” on HBO and Fox, so he’s encouraging Katz’s stations to consider it for time periods no earlier than 11 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn TV’s “Flipper” gets a thumbs-up from von Soosten “for independents and Fox stations in weekend daytime or early fringe” because the show “is no longer a dolphin-saves-the-family story. Now it’s ‘Baywatch’ with a dolphin,” a “non-violent action-adventure show focussing on ecological themes.”
For weekend daytime slots on indies and Fox affiliates, von Soosten suggests New Line TV’s 60-minute joining of two separate firstrun half-hours, “The Hardy Boys” and “Nancy Drew,” because the shows will have appeal to “teens and tweeners.”
The final recommendation is for a pilot that came in to Katz after von Soosten’s presentation, Buena Vista TV’s “Land’s End,” an action hour starring Fred Dryer (“Hunter”), which Carroll says could work in primetime on indie stations or as a weekend late-night series on indies and affiliates.