‘Geraldo’ facing changes

Geraldo Rivera’s syndie daytime talkshow is in for some major changes next season.

Sources say the Tribune Entertainment talker will move in fall 1998 from CBS O&Os to Tribune-owned stations in at least the top three TV markets — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Tribune officials declined to comment, but sources also report that “The Geraldo Rivera Show” will shift to a live format and tackle more headline-driven, topical issues. Tribune execs are tentatively planning to carry the New York-based show live at 9 a.m. on KTLA Los Angeles, 11 a.m. on WGN Chicago and noon on WPIX New York.

King World Prods., which took over station sales on “The Geraldo Rivera Show” from Tribune in early 1996, will continue to handle distribution of the show outside of the Tribune O&O markets.

Now in its 10th year in syndication, “Geraldo Rivera” has seen its average household rating drop more than 30% over the past few seasons. In November ’94, the show was averaging a 3.2; in November ’96 the show was down to a 1.9, but so far this month there’s been an uptick to a 2.0 average. In fairness, Rivera’s slide has coincided with the steady decline of the CBS O&Os, particularly in daytime and early fringe timeslots.

As a result, some of the CBS O&Os that have carried “Geraldo Rivera” for a number of years are not expected to exercise their options to renew for 1998-99. But the show is still viewed as a valuable franchise in the Tribune universe.

Sources say Tribune Entertainment brass are encouraged by the bump in ratings and creative changes instituted this season by new executive producer Jose Pretlow and deputy exec producer Adrienne Wheeler.

Rivera was said to have wrestled earlier this year with the decision on whether to continue his daytime talker. Sources close to the TV veteran say he’s since committed to continuing his syndie talker and his nightly CNBC news analysis hour, “Rivera Live,” which has consistently been one of the cabler’s highest-rated shows. In addition to sorting out his future in daytime TV, Rivera is presently in the midst of renewal negotiations with CNBC.

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