‘Trial’ run may end

Wolf show faces downgrades, seeking options

Dick Wolf’s high-profile foray into syndication, reality crime show “Arrest & Trial,” is poised to end with the conclusion of the 2000-01 TV season.

The Chris-Craft Television stations in the nation’s top two markets — WWOR in New York and KCOP in Los Angeles — will downgrade the show in the coming weeks from its prime access 7:30 p.m. time periods to latenight.

The downgrades leave Studios USA Domestic Television (SUDT), distributor of the show, two options to ensure a second season for the skein: The distrib can try to secure new deals for access time periods on stations in the important New York and Los Angeles markets, which is widely considered extremely difficult, or SUDT can pursue a basic cable deal.

SUDT prexy Steve Rosenberg issued a statement to Daily Variety on Tuesday addressing the show’s future, which he said he is committed to preserving.

“We will pursue all other opportunities in the coming weeks to keep this series in production for a second season,” he said. “Both Dick (Wolf) and I believe that ‘Arrest & Trial’ has the potential to be a long-term asset for the company. The show has shown consistent ratings expansion on the Chris-Craft stations and outperformed its lead-in. It also gained widespread support from stations and advertisers around the country.”

Skein did grow from the election coverage-heavy November ratings sweep to the February sweep in New York and Los Angeles by 14% and 23%, respectively.

In terms of national household ratings, off of which national advertisers make their buys, “Arrest & Trial’s” perf — although consistently ranking among those of the top-three new firstrun syndie strips — was a 1.8 for the week ended Feb. 18, the most recent week for which national household ratings are available, according to Nielsen.

Perf matches the show’s national household ratings low for the season, and a 5% dip from its October preem.

“Although Chris-Craft will move ‘Arrest & Trial’ out of access on its stations in New York and Los Angeles, all of us at Studios USA are very proud of what we have accomplished with a fantastic first-season effort by everyone involved, starting with executive producers Dick Wolf and Rob Port, who created a quality, critically acclaimed show,” Rosenberg said in his statement.

Port is prexy of MoPo Entertainment, Maury Povich’s production company, which produces the show along with Wolf’s Wolf Films.

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