Craig Ferguson in Final Negotiations With Tribune for 7 p.m. Syndicated Talkshow (EXCLUSIVE)

Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson is in final negotiations with Tribune Media to host a daily syndicated half-hour talkshow that would air in the 7 p.m. hour across Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 stations.

The show is targeted to bow in fall 2015. It’s expected that Michael Naidus, exec producer of CBS’ “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” will be on board as showrunner of the show, which will blend comedy and talkshow elements. The intent is to rev up the hour leading into primetime with the Ferguson yakker paired at 7:30 p.m. with a prime sitcom rerun, a la “Two and a Half Men” or “The Big Bang Theory.”

Reps for Tribune Media and Ferguson declined to comment.

Tribune is in talks with distributors to handle national distribution of the show beyond its stations, which reach some 42% of U.S. TV households and cover key top markets including New York (WPIX), L.A. (KTLA) and Chicago (WGN). Tribune’s muscle with first-run syndie fare expanded last year when it doubled its station holdings with the $2.7 billion acquisition of the Local TV station group.

The Ferguson deal marks the first syndicated show of its kind developed for the access time period — the hour leading into primetime, or 7 p.m. PT/ET and 6 p.m. CT/MT — in years. Tribune took a shot at fielding the first latenight syndie yakker in years this past season with the return of Arsenio Hall. That show didn’t go the distance beyond one season. The hope is that Ferguson will bring an established fan base to a time period with far less talk/variety/comedy competition.

SEE ALSO: Craig Ferguson: ‘I Wanted to Leave the Show While I Was Still Enjoying It’

Clearances in access time periods may be hard to come by outside of Tribune markets. The established players are pretty well-entrenched: think “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider,” “Extra” and “Access Hollywood.” But with local stations facing a drought of strong new sitcoms to program in the access hour, more stations that don’t have any of the first-run stalwarts may be open to a new entrant.

Among the distribs in the mix to handle national sales of the show is said to be Debmar-Mercury, which is already in business with Ferguson and Tribune on the syndie game show “Celebrity Name Game,” which will bow next month. “Name Game” is widely cleared on Tribune stations, and could be paired in the 7:30 p.m. slot with the new yakker if the show clicks in its first season.

The Tribune deal answers the question of what Ferguson planned to do next after announcing in April his plan to step down from the “Late Late Show” in December. Ferguson’s decision to move on after 10 years in the 12:35 a.m. slot behind David Letterman came as part of an unprecedented generational shakeup in latenight that started with the Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon “Tonight Show” handoff last February. Letterman is poised to sign off next year after 30-plus years in latenight.

Specifics about Ferguson’s new show are still sketchy, but it’s expected to have a slot for guests and to be a showcase for the offbeat humor that has made Ferguson distinct among the latenight pack. On “Late Late Show,” Ferguson’s sidekick is a robot skeleton named Geoff who is dressed up as if headed for a “Price Is Right” taping (a joke inspired by the fact that the two shows are taped on the same lot), and Ferguson also has regular visits with Secretariat, aka two people inside a horse costume.

For Ferguson, the shift to syndication will require some tailoring of his unique brand of yucks for a broader audience in an earlier time period and in a 30-minute format vs. an hour for “Late Late Show.” For Tribune, the move to recruit a marquee name is a sign that the company, under the leadership of network and cable programming vet Peter Liguori, is intent on using its formidable reach to be a bigger player and to shake up the conventions of local station programming outside of primetime.

 

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  1. Steve says:

    This announcement is dated August 2014. Any recent news about Craig’s daily syndicated half-hour talk show planned for 2015?

  2. Raken says:

    Hoping Geoff and Secretariat will be joining you! You all are hilarious and I so love watching your shows!

  3. chrissie2700 says:

    fantastic news for Craig + his team. you have worked hard for this. Good Luck

    Chrissie Mabeth in OZ

  4. Miriam says:

    This is Miriam. Oh, I’ll be watching you Craig Ferguson, don’t you worry about that! But what what I really want to say is, Shame on you, whoever you are..,who had the big idea that 30 minutes was enough for Craig’s new talk show? YOU RACISTS! I’ll scratch your eyes out!

  5. Christine says:

    Is this the ‘game show’ he had been hinting at? And what is “Tribune”? Will it be on CBS? :confused:

  6. J Archer says:

    Would love to see this show if it’s on a local station that has a reliable signal. CBS signal is so unreliable locally that I’ve had to give up many of my favorites.

  7. Anna says:

    hoping that Goeff will be with him

  8. I’m so glad for him:a new show for my favorite Scot! He’s just a cheeky Lad. Much Success!!

  9. Paula says:

    I’ll watch it since it’s the only way I’ll get to see Ferguson.

  10. Ralph says:

    It should be 90 minutes instead of 30

  11. codebreaker 714 says:

    Two thumbs up for Craig Ferguson! I’ll be watching his new show! I hope he brings the hilarious skeleton to his new show!

  12. Tj Arrigoni says:

    why i am relieved he is pulling a david letterman

  13. Fran DiCecio says:

    I was in premature CF withdrawl depression. Now I see the light again! Both his shows will be on my DVR daily!! He redefined late night talk shows. So happy he’ll be back!

  14. Kathy says:

    So very happy to hear Craig has a new deal in the works. he is a very talented personality and to lose being able to enjoy him in SOME capacity would be a shame. Please bring Oh darnit I can’t remember the robots name! Anyway be sure he comes along too!

  15. kathy Mcmullen says:

    I love Craig. Please don’t try to change him too much. He is so funny and loveable. I am 65. He deserves a hour long show. where can we find him for us Arizona based people. Young people know more than we do at my age. Bring our baby back strong.

  16. Maryann says:

    Yes I love it! Craig is funny!

  17. So excited,so glad craig is hoing to on TV.I know this program will be good. He’s a good TV personality.

  18. So happy that Craig will be on the air!! I think he is hysterical!!! I hope he brings his “buddies” with him..i.e. Geoff (skeleton man) and the dancing horse!!

  19. Jane K says:

    CF is the best late-night host out there. CBS made a big mistake letting him go.

  20. I am really hoping that the show is available on Comcast in the San Fransisco Bay Area Market. It is a top ten TV market. I have been just ignoring the December 19th date until he made a comment about 2 weeks ago that he was staying in the talk show business. He is so unique, funny, and intelligent. If CBS spent a 10th of what NBC does promoting Fallon Ferguson wouldn’t be leaving.

    • You know, besides being funny, he is very Intelligent and gives out his knowledge to his audience. I’m always fascinated when he gets deep and thoughtful. He makes his audience think about Life too!

  21. jam11 says:

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? Graig is fantastic, this doesn’t sound like a great move. TGFDVR, I will be watching.

  22. Humongo says:

    Late night TV will be pretty much dead to me once Ferguson and Letterman are gone. Fallon is too juvenile, Meyers is boring, Steven Colbert might be alright but not my tastes and Ferg’s show just won’t be nearly the same.

    Gonna be getting a lot more sleep soon. Shame on CBS for not at least offering Craig Late Night…

  23. Spikor says:

    I can’t believe he’d even consider continuing to work with that RACIST!

    I love his interview style. I hope he takes Geoff (Josh Robert Thompson) and Secretariat along for the ride, even though he probably won’t, because that’d make it exactly the same show, but shorter.

  24. Gina Newton says:

    I think that is great! I love watching Craig Ferguson!

  25. FrankM says:

    I hope they give him a travel budget! The week of shows that he did abroad in France (Aug 2011) and also Scotland (May 2012) were great. Look them up on youtube!

  26. Claire Choquette says:

    I love Craig & his pals and will watch his new show whenever it is! He is one of a kind & he makes me LOL.

  27. Barbara says:

    You guys are going it right!! Craig is by far the funniest man on late night television these days. I hate that he is leaving but I am really excited about this news! He has millions of fans and they will be glad to follow him wherever he goes!!! It’s nice that Michael is going with him even though he’s a RACIST!!! Just kiddin’……LOL I hope Geoff goes with him too!!! Way to go Craig!!!

  28. Bobbie says:

    Best late night show since Carson. Craig, keep up the good work.

  29. DEBBIEBOOP says:

    CAN’T WAIT IT’S ABOUT TIME HE IS THE GREATEST!!!

  30. MarinDem says:

    I wonder how long before this GREAT IDEA will expand from a 30-minute to 60-minute show. I’m down for Craig between the local news & prime time and I suspect he will draw millions more fans currently unaware of his unique talents. Great Comedy at 7pm when you are fully awake and not nodding off :-)

  31. Becky says:

    Great news, I’ll still get my Craigy fix every day. :) You go, Craig!

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