“Power of Attorney’s” gavel will be in new hands this fall, as Judge Andrew P. Napolitano is stepping down from the skein, this season’s highest-rated new firstrun syndie strip.
Cleveland Judge Lynn Toler will take Napolitano’s place on the Twentieth Television court show when taping for season two begins this summer.
Gotham-based Napolitano, who has been commuting to Los Angeles for his role on “Power,” will segue to an expanded role at Twentieth’s sister company, cable net Fox News Channel, where he’s been named senior judicial analyst.
Bob Cook, prexy-chief operating officer of Fox division Twentieth Television, said the decision to make the change grew out of the studio’s continual research and testing practices, as well as the bigger role Fox News Channel was looking to offer Napolitano.
“We’re always looking at new attorneys, litigants, judges. It wasn’t like we said, ‘We should go change the judge.’ It’s an ongoing, living, breathing process,” Cook said. “Lynn Toler came along, and she’s attractive, she’s firey, she’s smart. So we decided to test her … and she made it quite fun and entertaining.”
Toler, a Harvard U. and U. of Pennsylvania Law School grad, began her first six-year term as a municipal judge in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in 1994.
Among other tweaks to be expected in skein’s second season is the likely return of O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, who is making May sweeps appearances on the show.
“Power” also will start hearing a wider variety of cases, including disputes that involve higher monetary stakes.
Gloria Allred, Christopher Darden, Dominic Barbara and Geoffrey Fieger are expected to return to the roster for the show that offers everyday litigants representation by high-profile lawyers.
“Power” has earned an average 2.4 national household rating since its debut, according to the latest available Nielsen figures. It’s second season preems Aug. 27.
Meanwhile, Cook said Twentieth is casting its development net widely for 2002, with its eye toward needy dayparts rather than particular genres.
3 judges in the house
With “Power,” soph “Divorce Court” and local-rollout project “Texas Justice,” the company has three gavelers under its wing.
“I think we’re replete in (the court) genre, but you never know,” he said.
He added that the studio is still very interested in developing a show with KTTV Los Angeles personality Jillian Barberie, who also hosts Fox cable net FX’s new series “The Test.”