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Courts and courtship are syndie favorites

Syndication zeroes in on war of sexes

One could nearly become a legal expert by watching daytime TV this fall.

In addition to the six returning syndie court shows, five more are slated to debut.

“Everyone wants to gorge themselves on the court buffet,” says Andy Friendly, president of programming and production at King World Prods., which is bringing out “Curtis Court.”

“We think we have something different and unique to bring to the table,” Friendly adds.

The new court shows indeed are different from the traditional take on the genre and from one another, says Russ Krasnoff, exec veep of programming for Columbia TriStar TV Distribution, which debuts “Judge Hatchett” this fall.

“Our competitors are smart,” Krasnoff says. “For the most part, the court shows that are new this year are not like what’s on today.”

“Curtis Court” earned early praise for the execution of its pilot. It stars California prosecutor James Curtis, who says “people need to be heard and talked to rather than simply reprimanded.”

“Curtis'” cases will encompass a wide scope, and decisions will be made on some cases after on-site investi-gations, witness testimony and lie-detector tests.

Col aims to age-down the court show demo with “Judge Hatchett,” much like it did with talker “Ricki Lake,” which drew younger viewers than talkshows were getting when it debuted.

“Hatchett,” presided over by juvenile court authority Judge Glenda Hatchett, will include field segments, and cases will delve into family and relationship issues integral to the cases being weighed.

“Power of Attorney,” Twentieth Television’s follow-up to “Divorce Court,” offers litigants representation by high-profile attorneys, such as Gloria Allred, Christopher Darden and Ed Masry.

“Moral Court,” created by the court genre originator, Stu Billet (“People’s Court”), involves disputes over right and wrong, not tort. Radio personality and attorney Larry Elder mediates this showdown and hands out rewards based on the level of morality a person displays. Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distrib. is distributing.

Canadian company Red Apple’s entry, “Singles Court,” likewise does not focus on law. Instead, dating expert and host Angela Segal mediates relationship issues. Syndie vet Bob Peyton is distribbing.

Aside from which court shows will outdo one another, a handful of other strips are also being closely watched.

Since Paramount Domestic Television’s “Dr. Laura” talk show, starring radio personality and author Dr. Laura Schlessinger, earned strong station clearances last year, the project was closely eyed. Then early this year a fury of protests — mainly led by members of the gay community who took issue with Schlessinger’s radio commentary about homosexuality — hit. The show and its distrib have been in the continual spotlight since.

“We’re very excited for ‘Dr. Laura’ to premiere. We think she’s an extraordinary talent,” says Par Domestic TV co-prexy Joel Berman. “We’re just ready for the show to launch and to let the audience do the voting.”

Also likely to garner some attention is “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf’s first foray into firstrun syndication, “Arrest & Trial.” It’s a reality strip distribbed by Studios USA Domestic TV that follows crimes from through the investigation and prosecution processes.

A handful of gameshows are also entering the market with high expectations.

Response so far to “Street Smarts,” Telepictures’ new strip geared toward latenight, youthful viewers is strong.Newcomer Frank Nicotero hosts and conducts street interviews for the show that pits contestants against one another in a guessing match about the likelihood of people on the street knowing answers to trivia questions.

Expectations are high as well for Pearson Television’s remake of “To Tell The Truth,” with “Seinfeld” alum John O’Hurley hosting. Paula Poundstone and Mesach Taylor are are signed on as panel regulars.

Also in the gamer game are MGM’s “Sex Wars,” which pits men against women to see who knows the opposite sex better, and SUDT’s “Lover or Loser,” which also has a run on USA Network, and makes game out of match-making.

Another project with buzz is Columbia’s talker “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” hosted by Cybil Shepherd. It’s yet to be determined whether Shepherd will have a co-host, however a studio audience is in the plan.

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