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German TV audiences see double

Stars make appearances on rival networks

German TV viewers might be checking their eyes or the batteries on their remote controls these days. With one big network star after another straying to rival webs for guest appearances, there’s plenty of confusion.

What on earth, Teuton auds have been wondering, is ZDF’s top star Thomas Gottschalk — “the face of ZDF” — doing on an RTL gameshow? Or why was ARD’s top host Joerg Pilawa working the phones on a ZDF telethon — in the exact same timeslot that ARD was airing a primetime quizzer he headlined?

While B-talent in most TV markets typically goes wherever the dough is, it’s rare for top talent to cross net lines in Germany or elsewhere. So it’s been a head-scratching month on German TV. ARD’s Pilawa managed to lure RTL’s star hostess Sylvia van der Vaart to his show on Dec. 6 (even though he was live on ZDF) — and van der Vaart was on ARD in the same timeslot she’s usually hosting an RTL talent show. In fact, the Dutch model even parodied her role on RTL while on pubcaster ARD by shouting, “You’ve made it to the next round!” after one singer had a good perf even though there was no competition — a comment that thoroughly confused many of the 5 million viewers. Some had to check to make sure they were tuned into ARD and not RTL … or was that the other way around?

RTL’s most prominent face, Guenter Jauch, has also guested on a rival net. He appeared on a recent version of Gottschalk’s “Wanna Bet?” on ZDF.

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