Latifah locks launch

'Break' looking solid

FROM NATPE
NEW ORLEANS — Go girl! That’s the word from Warner Bros., which has declared its Queen Latifah talker a “firm go” for fall 1999.

Greenlights also were given Monday to WB’s “Judge Mathis” courtshow, Tribune’s “Richard Simmons’ Dream Maker” and Twentieth TV’s “Divorce Court.”

There’s still no word on Gotham and L.A. outlets for the Martin Short talkshow, but King World Prods. confirmed Monday what most NATPE-goers already knew: “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” will hum along through at least the 2004-05 season.

Meanwhile, “Your Big Break” got one at NATPE Monday as Buena Vista TV sealed key clearance deals for its wacky weekly talent show.

“Big Break” has been picked up for fall 1999 by Chris Craft/United TV’s WWOR New York, KCOP Los Angeles, KBHK San Francisco and KMSP Minneapolis, as well as UPN affil WPWR Chicago.

The hour-long weekly series is described as karaoke-meets-“Star Search,” wherein five everyday folk undergo makeovers in an effort to imitate their favorite stars. “Your Big Break” is a U.S. take on a long-running Euro TV hit.

To date, “Big Break” has been cleared on stations covering 55% of the country, including 14 of the top 20 markets.

Elsewhere on the clearance front, Studios USA confirmed it has inked deals for its newsmag “Free Speech” in upward of 55% of the country.

Studios USA has yet to divulge specific stations, but the distrib says the half-hour strip has been picked up by outlets in such groups as Tribune, Young, Sinclair, Hearst-Argyle, Clear Channel and Post-Newsweek.

On the off-network side, Carsey-Werner reports it has cleared the NBC drama “Profiler” in 70 markets covering 57% of the country.

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