First Look: ‘Crossing Over’

Supernatural show may spawn a new genre

It doesn’t take a psychic to figure out that “Crossing Over With John Edward,” starring a psychic medium, may be about to spawn an entirely new genre of television shows.

Because the program is so different from everything else being offered in broadcast syndication this season, insiders say it has one of the best chances of breaking out. In anticipation of a possible hit, several competitors have been developing psychic skeins aimed at future seasons.

“(If it’s a) success, everyone will be looking in the stars, talking to the dead and checking their tarot cards. If the show is not successful, those other shows we’ve heard about will never make it on the air,” one station exec says.

During each half-hour episode of “Crossing Over,” Edward delivers to his studio audience information he senses from deceased loved ones. It’s the emotional moment that goes along with the delivery that gets to viewers, says Steve Rosenberg, prexy of Studios USA Domestic TV, which is syndicating the show.

“Audiences connect with John,” Rosenberg says. “It’s the way people feel when they watch him that makes this show stand out. Who can’t relate to the opportunity to talk to a family member one more time after they’re gone?”

The show debuted in latenight last year on SUDT sister company Sci Fi Channel, and became the top-rated original strip on the cable net. This summer the skein aired in primetime, but moved back to latenight with the bow of the syndie run. Original episodes this fall will air first on Sci Fi, then show up in syndication three weeks later.

“Crossing Over’s” successful Sci Fi history helped sell TV stations on the idea of the new breed of show. The run also has provided the production time to incubate.

“There’s a lot of tripping and stumbling that goes along with creating a good production,” says Garnett Losak, VP and director of pro-gramming for Petry Media Corp. “It doesn’t hurt that they’ve done some of that on cable first.”

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