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20th remembers ‘Lyrics’

Brings gameshow back to market for cash and barter

Fox’s Twentieth Television is stepping up its game show business with plans to revive the game show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” as a syndie/cable series.

Half-hour show, to bow in the fall, will air Monday-Friday in primetime on VH1 and in first-run syndication on Fox O&Os in the top 10 markets. It will also air weekly in primetime on Fox’s MyNetworkTV broadcast block.

The Fox station group’s decision to pick up “Lyrics” likely spells the end of the run of NBC Universal Domestic TV’s “Deal or No Deal” strip after this season. “Deal” had been carried on key Fox stations.

“Lyrics,” produced by RDF USA, will be hosted by Sugar Ray frontman and former “Extra” co-host Mark McGrath.

Show tests contestants’ knowledge of song lyrics from a range of genres, eras and artists. A version of “Lyrics” hosted by Wayne Brady ran on the Fox net in 2007 and 2008.

Twentieth is making the show available asking for cash plus barter basis. Twentieth crafted a similar cable/firstrun distrib plan last for its redo of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” which airs in syndie, on MyNetworkTV and on cabler CMT.

The Monday ayem announcement of the “Lyrics” strip came as a surprise on the first day of the NATPE programming confab in Las Vegas, which runs through Wednesday.

The market for new shows for fall 2010 is thin this year — a symptom of the battered local advertising market that TV stations are still grappling with — and that likely encouraged Twentieth to pull together the syndie/cable combo plan for “Lyrics.”

Despite the economic doldrums, NATPE opened with the usual hustle and bustle, handshakes and backslapping. And the lines were very long outside the elevators in the Mandalay Bay hotel where most syndie distribs are doing business behind closed doors in suites.

In his opening remarks, NATPE prexy Rick Feldman acknowledged the “challenging and turbulent” past few years that the broadcast biz has faced.

“The television business is under clear pressure to change — but without a clear path” to a new business model, Feldman noted.

Because the traditional marketplace function of the NATPE confab has dwindled so dramatically, the org will move the confab to Miami next year, after eight years in Vegas, in an effort to attract more program buyers from Latin America. The market for Latin American programming, produced in the U.S. and abroad, has been a growing area at NATPE in recent years.

In other programming tidbits:

** CBS Television Distribution has tapped court show vet John Terenzio as exec producer of its fall 2010 frosh strip, “Swift Justice with Nancy Grace.” Terenzio has been exec producer of CTD’s “Judge Joe Brown” for the past six years, and he’ll continue on that show along with “Swift Justice.”

** Debmar-Mercury has cleared its rerun package of E Entertainment’s “True Hollywood Story” series on stations covering 65% of U.S. TV households. The series, a staple of the E! cabler for years, will bow as a strip in the fall on outlets owned by Fox, CBS, Weigel Broadcasting and Sunbeam Television, among others.

** Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios is upping the ante on its kidvid programming. The company has renewed its “Pets.TV” weekly hour for a second season, and it has a new offering, “The Young Icons,” cleared in 95% of the country for fall 2010. A third series, “Career Day,” is eyed for fall 2011. All three shows are designed to help broadcasters meet the federal requirement to air at least three hours per week of educational or informational programming aimed at kids.

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