Par’s ‘Real TV’ wins N.Y. Eye access slot

NEW ORLEANS — Paramount Domestic TV has inked a deal with WCBS New York to move “Real TV” into “Hard Copy’s” 7 p.m. access slot this fall. The deal signals the positioning of “Real TV” as Paramount’s next big access contender and the possible key to holding access slots on the CBS stations beyond 1998.

“This is a big move for ‘Real TV,’ ” Joel Berman, president of distribution at Paramount, said on Thursday, the fi-nal day of the 1997 NATPE convention. ” ‘Real TV’ will be a major player in access. It’s the little show that could, and the so-called access hole (in 1998) may be filled by ‘Real TV.’ ”

Meanwhile, “Hard Copy” will move to the 4:30 p.m. early fringe slot in the nation’s top market, where it most likely will be paired with Worldvision’s “Judge Judy,” which is moving from WWOR. “Real TV” now airs on WPIX midday, but the contract states it can move to another station if it gets an access slot.

“Real TV” also will move to access on WFSB, Hartford, and KCRA, Sacramento, starting this fall, and in total, it has been renewed in 73% of the country.

Still in the loop

But Berman says “Hard Copy” can’t be counted out, despite the New York downgrade. In Chicago, “Hard Copy” has been renewed through 1999, and in Philadelphia, Par is closing in on a deal to renew the tabmag through 2000 on the CBS O&O KYW.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh CBS O&O KDKA will be airing “Grace Under Fire” in access this fall. What these deals suggest is that CBS stations have not yet decided on a uniform plan for access in 1998.

In fact, the CBS O&Os may not make any type of group access deal, but may all handle their markets individually. In a sense, 1997 is turning into a test year, with various CBS stations running combinations of “Entertainment Tonight,” “Hard Copy,” “Real TV” and sitcoms.

Tony Vinciquerra, executive vice president of the CBS Television Stations, said the group has a number of options to choose from for 1998, including creating its own access strip or buying the DreamWorks project with Connie Chung and Maury Povich.

Eyeing ‘PM Magazine’

Right now Eyemark Entertainment, a unit of CBS, is considering a remake of “PM Magazine.” Several CBS stations are interested in doing “PM Magazine,” perhaps on their own, if not with Eyemark. However, the chances of that show going national will hinge on the performance of strips airing in access on CBS stations next season, especially “Real TV.”

Berman says the CBS stations are unlikely to dump a successful show in order to produce inhouse. The failure of another such inhouse venture at CBS, the afternoon strip “Day & Date,” is a cautionary tale, showing what Berman calls “the dark side of these alliances.”

ABC’s renewal of King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” through 2002, rather than having its parent Disney develop a new show, also demonstrates the backlash against inhouse real-estate deals.

“CBS affiliates aired ‘PM Magazine’ before, and it was canceled,” Berman said. “Why is it resurfacing now? They’re developing a lot of things, but the last thing they want is to start all over with a new show. They need programming that works. I don’t see them taking that out.”

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