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Ad time seller BV ankles ‘Ask Rita’

Morgan: "Rita Rudner is a comic talent that women will like"

Buena Vista has dropped out as the seller of advertising time for the five-a-week “Ask Rita” syndicated firstrun half hour hosted by the comedian Rita Rudner, but the series will come back for a second season, beginning Sept. 29.

Dave Morgan, president and CEO of Litton Syndications, which distributes “Ask Rita,” said he has hired the barter-syndication veteran Michael Weiden to take over the selling of the 90 seconds of advertising time Litton keeps in each half-hour.

“Ask Rita” has averaged only a 0.3 rating in recent weeks, but the show is at a big disadvantage because it appears on only 141 TV stations reaching just 58% of the U.S. Most widely distributed firstrun-syndication shows get clearances that average in the mid-90s.

And many of the time periods for “Ask Rita” come in graveyard time periods, such as WABC New York’s 2:05 a.m. But Morgan said when the 40 new half hours kick off next month, Litton will have sold the show in close to 80% of the country. Other TV stations on board include KABC Los Angeles, WLS Chicago, WUSA Washington and WDIV Detroit, which pay a cash license fee and keep five-and-a-half minutes of commercial time in each episode to sell locally.

“Our main selling point is Rita Rudner, who’s a comic talent that women will like,” said Morgan. Each half hour features Rudner presiding over a panel of four showbiz people who trade quips as they answer questions from viewers.

Ritmar TV, Rudner’s production company, moved the set earlier this year from Burbank, where the first 60 half hours were taped, to a studio in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Rudner performs at MGM’s sister hotel in Vegas New York New York.