WB eyeing ‘Love’ re-connection

Will Pat Bullard become the new matchmaker/referee on “Love Connection”?

He will if Warner Bros.’ syndie arm decides to go forward with a revival of “Love Connection,” which wrapped its original 11-year run as a syndie strip in 1994.

A new version of “Love Connection” has been in the development pipeline at Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Eric Lieber Prods. for some time. Sources close to the project say the studio is sold on comedian/talkshow host Bullard to take Chuck Woolery’s place on the couch if the project moves forward as a syndie offering for fall 1998.

Reps for WBDTD and Bullard declined comment, but sources say the studio is high on the idea of a new-model “Love Connection,” particularly in light of the warm welcome another WBDTD-distributed revival, “The People’s Court,” recently received from station buyers.

“Love Connection,” originally distributed by Lorimar Television (which was subsequently acquired by Warner Bros.), bowed in 1983 as a home video-era twist on “The Dating Game,” in which contestants selected dates via videotaped interviews. After the first date, the pair would come on the show to discuss their encounter.

Bullard, a native of Toronto, hosted a short-lived daytime talker, “The Pat Bullard Show,” last season for Multimedia Entertainment, which touted the comedian as their pick to become the next Phil Donahue.

Prior to launching the talker, Bullard worked as a standup comedian and writer/producer for the Carsey-Werner/ABC sitcoms “Roseanne” and “Grace Under Fire.” He moved to Los Angeles after making his name in Canada as host of the TV variety show “Downtown Saturday Night.”

Warner Bros.’ decision on “Love Connection” will likely be influenced by the sales progress of other syndie contenders for fall 1998 over the next few weeks. King World Prods. is tearing through the marketplace with its Roseanne talker, nabbing lucrative timeslots on strong affiliate stations.

As of last week, Paramount’s Howie Mandel talker, targeted for an April 1998 debut, was not believed to have cleared the top three markets, but it has been picked up in the fifth-largest TV market by NBC affil KRON San Francisco.

Columbia TriStar last week was pitching New York stations on a possible talk-variety vehicle with Donny & Marie Osmond. Warner Bros. is expected to bring out a fall 1998 talker in the single-topic “Oprah” format hosted by former “Hard Copy” correspondent Diane Dimond. And yet another 1980s TV revival, “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” is said to be in the works at Rysher Entertainment.

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