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King World on a hit hunt

Par TV elevates exec to prez

King World’s failure to develop any syndicated hits inhouse in the last decade has led Viacom to boost Terry Wood to president of creative affairs and development for both King World Prods. and sister company Paramount Domestic TV.

Wood, exec VP of programming for Paramount Domestic TV, is on a roll, having presided over the hit series “Dr. Phil” and promising newcomer “The Insider.” In the newly created post, Wood will continue to work on these two shows, as well as “Entertainment Tonight.”

King World has developed a string of flops in the last few years, ranging from last season’s “Living It Up With Ali & Jack” and 2001-02’s “The Amanda Lewis Show” to syndie talkshows hosted by Roseanne and Martin Short.

Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz TV, which represents hundreds of TV stations, said the “ultimate success” of King World is not in creating programming but in “getting shows on the air, keeping them on the air and chalking up record prices for them.”

King World distributes the three most successful firstrun strips in syndication: “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The first two are from Merv Griffin Prods.; “Oprah” is a production of Harpo Entertainment.

While Wood supervised the development and production of “Dr. Phil” at Par, it was King World that cleared the show throughout the country and collected hundreds of millions of dollars in both license fees from TV stations and spot dollars from advertisers that buy time in the series.

Wood calls her new job “the completion of the final piece of the puzzle” linking Par’s production expertise with King World’s distribution abilities.

The first new project Wood may work on is a spinoff of “Oprah” for fall 2006 featuring Paige Davis, host of TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” and the interior designer Nate Berkus. Both are regular guests on “Oprah,” and Winfrey plans to incubate them in the same way she did with “Dr. Phil,” which came into the syndie marketplace with a head start over its fellow frosh rivals.

Leslie Moonves, co-president/chief operating officer of Viacom, who made the Wood appointment, said that while Paramount and King World’s development have been pulled together into one unit, the two companies will continue to operate independently.

Wood joined Paramount Domestic TV in November 1998 as VP of programming, focusing her efforts on “Entertainment Tonight” and the since-cancelled “Hard Copy.”

Before Paramount, she was executive director of development for Harpo, the company owned by Winfrey.