You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Merv Griffin lives on in syndication

'Crosswords' launches on NBC-owned stations

While Merv Griffin’s legacy has been summed up in myriad obituaries since his death last month, the final chapter has yet to play out.

That process began Monday when “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords” made its firstrun syndie bow, launching on NBC owned-and-operated stations in afternoon time periods in the major markets.

Griffin, of course, created two of the more profitable assets in television history in “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” All the same, his final effort will face stiff competition in daytime syndication in key markets — in Los Angeles, for example, it will be stripped with double runs starting at 3 p.m. on KNBC against “Oprah Winfrey” on KABC and “Judge Judy” on KCBS.

“Any time you go against ‘Oprah,’ it’s tough, and (the competition) is compounded by shows like ‘Judge Judy’ and ‘People’s Court,’ ” says Bill Carroll, a programming consultant for station rep firm Katz Television.

“Then again, you can never bet against Merv — it would be foolish to do so, especially since he was intimately involved with the development of the show even though he was in failing health.”

According to Josh Raphaelson, who heads “Crosswords” distributor Program Partners, the ailing game-show taskmaster was “tweaking things right up to the last minute and was down to the lesser substantive changes,” such as host Ty Treadway’s hairstyle.

“We also have a promotional campaign worth in excess of $10 million that’s backing this up,” Raphaelson says.

Monday’s other big firstrun launch was Telepictures’ “TMZ,” which is attempting to funnel the gossip-fueled heat of TMZ.com into a newsmagazine strip running in early fringe on Fox stations. TMZ mastermind Harvey Levin hosts and exec produces the skein.

“If they’re able to translate the tongue-in-cheek approach from the website to the TV show, that will be very much in line with the Fox sensibility,” Carroll notes.

Two new court shows were also offered up to the syndie gods starting Monday: Radar Distribution’s “Jury Duty,” featuring panels of well-knowns and formerly well-knowns — everyone from Todd Bridges to Ed Begley Jr. to Phyllis Diller — judging daytime’s usual litany of petty grievances, and “Judge David Young” from Sony Pictures Television, offering an openly gay Miami jurist.

The talk format is also getting fresh entries, with Steve Wilkos — best known as the big, bald security guard who has broken up many an on-air fight on “The Jerry Springer Show” over the years — getting spun into his own NBC-Universal strip that will run primarily on Tribune outlets in daytime. (Wilkos will differentiate himself from Springer, Carroll says, by taking a more “hands-on” approach when dealing with the hooligans who appear as guests on his show.)

Twentieth, meanwhile, is expanding its rollout of “The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet,” putting it on Fox O&Os in major markets. Carroll says the show is “well-produced but faces difficulty going against ‘Live With Regis & Kelly’ and the third hour of ‘Today.’ ”

This fall season also brings several notable off-net premieres. Tribune stations are fusing “Two and a Half Men” from Warner Bros. and “Family Guy” from Twentieth into a venerable but aging comedy lineup that includes “Friends” and Everybody Loves Raymond.”

“Men,” Carroll notes, could be the last major sitcom to run exclusively in broadcast syndication for several years before migrating to cable. In July, NBC Universal and TBS broke with that tradition, with the former selling the latter rights to “The Office” ($650,000 an episode) and “My Name Is Earl” ($625,000) without the usual syndie-first exclusivity.

More TV


    'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Renewed for Seasons 3 and 4 at Netflix

    Netflix has ordered two more seasons of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” The streamer has ordered another 16 episodes of the series, which will be split into two parts like Season 1 and 2. Season 3 and 4 will begin production in 2019. Season 2 is set to premiere April 5, 2019. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” imagines [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    How The Rolling Stones' 'She’s a Rainbow' Got a Seven-Figure Synch Renaissance

    As far as Rolling Stones chart hits go, “She’s A Rainbow” is more of a cult favorite in the band’s canon, just missing the Top 40 of Mick Jagger’s biggest Billboard Hot 100 hits of all time. But by 2018 standards, it’s suddenly become a smash — based on how many high-profile sync placements the [...]

  • David Schwimmer to Star in New

    David Schwimmer to Star in New Sky Comedy Series ‘Intelligence’

    David Schwimmer will play a power-hungry NSA agent relocated to the U.K. in “Intelligence,” a new six-part comedy series for Sky in Britain. Schwimmer is best known to British audiences for his role as Ross in “Friends,” but was recently in the news after British police posted a video of a suspected thief who seemed [...]

  • Fiona Campbell Named Controller of BBC

    BBC Names Fiona Campbell as New Head of Online Channel BBC Three

    The BBC has named Fiona Campbell the new boss of its youth-skewing online channel, BBC Three, replacing outgoing controller Damian Kavanagh, who is leaving in the new year to run Endemol Shine-owned producer Tiger Aspect. Campbell has been heading up the documentary unit at BBC Studios, the U.K. pubcaster’s production division. She also worked at BBC Three [...]

  • Rüdiger Böss, ProSiebenSat.1's Longtime Hollywood Buyer,

    Rüdiger Böss, ProSiebenSat.1's Longtime Buyer in Hollywood, to Leave the Company

    Rüdiger Böss, who as head buyer for ProSiebenSat.1 negotiated the German broadcast giant’s deals with U.S. studios for many years, is leaving after more than a quarter of a century at the company. Böss is a well-known figure in the international TV business and a familiar face at major events and markets. ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Conrad [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Romantic Comedy

    Rebel Wilson to Star in Australian Drama Series 'Les Norton'

    Rebel Wilson and David Wenham will star in Australian drama series “Les Norton.” Adapted from the novels of Robert G. Barrett, the show is presented by The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Screen Australia. Set in 1985, the series will follow the exploits of a country bloke from outback Queensland, played by rising star Alexander Bertrand [...]

  • Korea's CJ ENM Acquires Scandinavian Sales

    South Korea's CJ ENM Acquires Scandinavian Sales Company Eccho Rights

    South Korean entertainment powerhouse CJ ENM has acquired a majority stake in Stockholm-based rights-management and sales company Eccho Rights. A leading entertainment and merchandising company in Asia, CJ ENM will give Eccho Rights the resources to expand its global footprint across Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Eccho Rights has offices in Stockholm, Istanbul, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content