Suppliers tout overlooked shows
At the 44th annual NATPE sales bazaar, 2007 is shaping up as the year of the boutique indie.With a lackluster development season for firstrun strips from the major Hollywood syndicators, companies like Program Partners, Debmar/Mercury, October Moon, Starz Media, MGM and Litton are taking advantage of the lull. Each of these suppliers hits Vegas today with plans to unveil and launch an original strip or otherwise trumpet an overlooked off-net or off-cable show. “This is the most activity that I’ve seen so close to NATPE in a number of years,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz TV, which represents hundreds of stations. “And it’s the non-major distributors that are showing off their entrepreneurial skills.” If stations sign up for the indie-distributed series, the chutzpah of these companies could pay off in big bucks — and re-energize a sagging syndie biz. Among the companies hoping to make a splash in Sin City:
- Ritch Colbert’s Program Partners is unveiling “Crosswords,” a fresh gameshow from none other than Merv Griffin, creator of long-running syndie stalwarts “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” It will be pitched to stations outside the top three markets in all-cash deals.
- Chuck Larson’s October Moon is taking out comedy gameshow “Laugh Off,” produced by Bunim-Murray, which will be offered to stations in all-cash deals.
- MGM’s newly revved-up syndie unit under Jim Packer is licensing two off-cable shows, “Reno 911” and “Chappelle’s Show,” for latenight slots.
- Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein’s Debmar/Mercury is selling “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” as an original sitcom strip for fall 2008 (following its 15-month premiere run on TBS), as well as taking over syndie duties for perennial gamer “Family Feud” and the off-cable sci-fi series “Dead Zone.”
- Hank Cohen’s year-old Trifecta is bringing three off-net projects to the tradeshow: “Hollywood Shootout,” “UFC Wired” and “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.”
- David Ozer at Starz Media is bringing out an off-Sci Fi action series called “Painkiller Jane,” starring Kristanna Loken, which premieres on the channel in March. It’s being marketed in syndie as a double-run weekend series for the fall.
- Dave Morgan’s Litton Distribution is buffing up the classic reruns of “Baywatch” and has already cleared most of the top 20 markets in all-barter deals for the strip.