Inside Move: Syndie ‘Million’ primed

Move comes after ABC scales back

ABC’s decision to scale back the number of nights on which it airs “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” appears to have invigorated discussions about a syndie version of the gamer.

While a Buena Vista TV spokeswoman declined to comment on the speculation, word in the syndie sector is that ABC sister company Buena Vista Television is aiming to roll out a syndie “Millionaire” in daytime and/or early access timeslots sometime in 2002.

While a syndie version of the show has long been kicked around, insid-ers say interest in going forward sooner rather than later was sparked when ABC announced at its upfront presentation earlier this week that two installments of “Millionaire” would air on the web starting this fall, down from the current four (Daily Variety, May 14).

Since then, insiders have been abuzz that the move would create more room for a Monday-Friday syndie version.

If BVT does start talking seriously with TV stations about launching “Millionaire” in 2002, the company and its show will be competing with another primetime gamer headed for syndication, NBC’s “Weakest Link.” NBC’s new syndie division is trying for a January launch of “Link” in broadcast syndication, likely with a different host than primetime’s Anne Robinson.

Whether a syndie “Millionaire” would feature primetime host Regis Philbin is not clear. It would be a tall order for Philbin. In addition to “Millionaire,” he already hosts a daily syndie morning show distribbed by BVT, “Live! With Regis & Kelly.”