USA, Unapix commit to relationship skein

Pact launches court strip

Station group USA Broadcasting is getting involved with Unapix Syndication.

USA Broadcasting has agreed to be the launch group for Unapix’s “Singles Court,” a half-hour syndicated relationship strip for fall 2000 that mediates conflicts in the lives of umarried couples in a courtroom setting. Creator and executive producer Angela Segal, a former dating service owner, is hosting.

USA Broadcasting is among the 10 largest station groups in the country and is nearly halfway through converting its 13 stations from home shopping broadcasters to local, independent broadcating stations. WHUB (TV) Boston is scheduled to launch in July, and two other stations, which have not been publicly specified are on deck. Sources peg New York, Los Angeles and Chicago as likeliest markets to make the switch next.

The WB 100+ Station Group, a local cable-delivered station group affiliated with the WB in markets ranked 100 to 210, has also picked up the show.

“Singles Court’s” production and distribution is unusual for a strip. While domestic firstrun strips are generally produced in the United States, Toronto-based Red Apple Entertainment Corporation came on board earlier this year with Unapix to co-produce out of Toronto. Red Apple, a recently formed company producer-distributor of non-fiction programming, is also distributing “Singles Court” in Canada. Toronto broadcaster Ontv is the first to have signed on.

Several weekly syndicated series currently shoot in Canada, but no major strips do.

“There have been some proposed gameshows and talkshows to be produced in Toronto, but it just hasn’t materialized among the strips at this point,” says station rep Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Media.

Executive producer-host Segal originally created and hosted the show on WAXN (TV) in Charlotte, N.C. Her idea was brought to the attention of Unapix syndication president George Back after it appeared in the NATPE convention’s annual Pitch Me contest.

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