Foxworthy returns to ‘Fifth Grader’

Fox gameshow moves closer to syndication

Twentieth TV has moved closer to rolling out a syndication version of Fox primetime series “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” by signing Jeff Foxworthy to repeat his role as host.

The likely buyers of “5th Grader,” which is expected to hit the syndie market in the next few weeks for a September 2009 start, are the 29 Fox-owned stations and a big chunk of the 60 stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.

Some of these stations have bought the half-hour syndie version of NBC Universal’s “Deal or No Deal,” hosted by another comedian, Howie Mandel, which kicked off this month while still chalking up solid Nielsens as a primetime hour on NBC. The stations’ plan to play “Deal” and “5th Grader” back to back in a two-hour double-run each weekday, in many cases as the 6 p.m. lead-in to primetime.

The dearth of sitcoms has caused stations, particularly those affiliated with Fox, the CW and MyNetworkTV, to search for alternatives. Gameshows with a comedic touch could become the genre of choice if the half-hour “Deal or No Deal” finds an audience during the 2008-09 season.

Since it premiered on Fox in February 2007, “5th Grader” has harvested solid Nielsens.