Paramount, seeking to break out of the newsmag and talkshow mold, confirmed Thursday that it will revive “The Price Is Right” for firstrunsyndication beginning in fall 1994.
The syndicator and Mark Goodson Prods. have partnered to produce and distribute the strip, which will be earmarked for the 4-8 p.m. early fringe/access block.
Par and other syndicators are coming out of the gate early with fall ’94 projects just as Buena Vista Television is heading into the market with the off-net sitcom “Home Improvement.”
The comedy could land in access in fall ’95 under two risky marketing plans that ask network affiliates to bet the Prime Time Access Rule will be eliminated by then. PTAR prohibits top-50 market affils from airing off-net shows in the 7- 8 p.m. access period.
Because syndicators fear that “Improvement” could grab a number of limited and valuable access spots on affiliates’ schedules, many are expected to introduce firstrun projects aimed at access in September ’94 to get a competitive jump.
At a morning press conference, Par syndie prez Steve Goldman and creative affairs president Frank Kelly trumpeted the strong performance of the network version of the show, but declined to discuss any sort of marketing plan for the cash-plus-barter program.
Goldman did note, however, that Par would not seek alliances with broadcast groups because it would be next to impossible to find one that had slots available on all of its stations.
Unlike Par’s “The Maury Povich Show,” which received initial two-year commitments, the syndicator will only seek one-year commitments for “Price.”
“Price” is the first gameshow to come along in syndication since a number of prospective game entrants quickly died a few seasons back. Goldman asserted that stations’ familiarity factor with “Price” will be a big asset.
The gameshow last aired in syndication during the 1985-86 season, when it was distributed by Columbia’s defunct Program Source. In the earlier run, Goldman said the show achieved a healthy 9 rating in access and a 7 rating in early fringe.
Goodson prexy-CEO Jonathan Goodson said business differences “led us to withdraw it. In retrospect, I think it was a mistake. We should have given it the time to grow… like ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ ”
The new syndie version will differ from its daytime counterpart, with the format modified to include a new host, game elements, models, set, music and higher-priced showcases.
Despite the changes, which are designed to appeal to a younger target demo, Goodson said the production company will keep some familiar elements.
“We have to do a balanced show without alienating the daytime audience,” he said.
Goldman sees the show as a useful news lead-in as well as for access. With “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” entrenched well beyond ’94, Par will have to ferret out other openings.
Par’s last outing with a gameshow came in September 1988, when it quickly wiped out with “Wipe Out.” It also distributed a comedy game show in the 1983-84 season called “Anything for Money.”
Goldman, Kelly and Joel Berman, exec VP of the syndie wing, also took several shots at “Hollywood Squares,” noting that it has not had staying power in syndication — which they attributed to the comedy aspect of the show.
King World, perhaps not so coincidentally, acquired the rights to “Squares” from Orion and has the program in its development arsenal.
The Par exex said the only network and syndicated gameshows that have had long-term success in the past 20 years aside from “Price” are straight gameshows: the powerhouse syndie titans “Wheel of Fortune,””Jeopardy!” and “Family Feud.”