Daily half-hour syndie series to bow in fall 2004

Paramount Domestic Television has sold its “Entertainment Tonight” spinoff “The Insider” to the CBS O&Os for a fall 2004 debut.

With the CBS-owned and -operated affils and a handful of other stations, the upcoming daily half-hour syndicated series is cleared in markets repping coverage of more than 40% of the country.

Because the show is aimed at prime access time periods (7-8 p.m.), Par had to act fast to sell the show, which is based on a regular “ET” segment, Paramount Domestic Television prexy John Nogawski told Daily Variety.

“The decision needed to be made now,” he said. “There was an expiration coming up on a show (‘Hollywood Squares’), which was the only access hole in any of the O&O markets. With (‘Wheel of Fortune’) and ‘Jeopardy!’ on ABC stations, ‘Access Hollywood’ owned by NBC — which also owns half of ‘Extra’ — and ‘ET’ on the CBS O&Os, this was the last spot.”

In addition to the Eye stations, “The Insider” is booked on McGraw-Hill, Hubbard, Midwest Television, Capitol Broadcasting and Sinclair stations.

That the pacts are being made 21 months in advance of launch will only help the newsmag’s chances of breaking out, because Par can take that time to hone the content, Nogawski said.

“The opportunity to develop and nurture this program until we actually premiere it is a process that reminds us of ‘Dr. Phil,’ ” he said. “Especially since we have been doing the ‘Insider’ segment for about a year on ‘ET.’ ”

“The Insider” will be produced under the supervision of the “ET” team and feature fewer, longer segments than “ET.” Show will “stretch the definition of celebrity,” Nogawski said, in seeking subjects. So expect items on business and political people, even politicians’ kids in addition to the stars of film, television and music.

On-air talent is to be determined, as is day-to-day staff.

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