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U spins top slots for syndie ‘Wheel’

Show is companion to 'Date'

Universal Worldwide Television has clinched a New York clearance for “The Fifth Wheel,” its companion show to soph dating strip “Blind Date,” on Fox O&O WNYW.

With the WNYW deal — as well as pacts in such markets as Houston, Cleveland and Pittsburgh made since January’s National Assn. of Television Programming Execs (NATPE) confab — “The Fifth Wheel” is set to be seen on stations covering 85% of the country when it preems in broadcast syndication this fall.

KCAL in Los Angeles and WPWR in Chicago, among others, picked up the show at NATPE.

Matt Cooperstein, Universal’s senior VP of domestic television syndication, said he expects his sales force to have enough stations on board to cover 95% of the country by the time the show preems.

Move comes at a time when the marketplace has been rough going for distributors selling new shows.

“We had a strong lineup going into NATPE, then we were slowed down by the marketplace,” Cooperstein said of “Wheel.” “Fortuntately for us, the marketplace recognized ‘The Fifth Wheel’ is a good show.” Meanwhile, several distribs continue to pound the pavement on behalf of their new relationship strips.

Lions Gate/Mercury Entertainment/Fisher Entertainment, for example, have shifted gears on “Who Wants to Date a Hooter’s Girl?” from targeting the station/syndie marketplace to the world of firstrun cable, where they are close to a deal.

Telepictures has not officially announced any clearance info on “Elimidate,” although insiders estimate its clearance level at 85%, with pacts in L.A. on KCAL and in Chicago on WCIU. A deal for the show in New York is still outstanding.

A distribution scenario that Telepictures has considered for “Elimidate” features a shared window with a broadcast network. If the distrib does go that route, insiders indicate it most likely will be with the WB, although no deal is definite.

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