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LA, Chicago call up ‘Dr. Oz’

Syndicated series produced by Harpo Prods.

The prognosis is very good for the launch of “Dr. Oz” next fall. Fox O&Os in Gotham, Los Angeles and Chicago have picked up the syndie skein from Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Prods. and Sony Pictures TV.

The health and wellness-oriented daytime strip comes with built-in aud awareness thanks to host Dr. Mehmet C. Oz’s frequent appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” during the past four years. Oz is a top heart surgeon and the best-selling author of “You: The Owners Manual.” He also hosts a weekly series for Discovery Channel, “Second Opinion With Dr. Oz.”

To date, Sony has cleared the show in 14 of the top 20 TV markets and on stations covering 40% of U.S. TV households. The show will air on Fox’s WNYW New York, KTTV Los Angeles and WFLD Chicago, and the bulk of its other clearances are coming from Big Four-affiliated stations for afternoon timeslots.

But because “Dr. Oz” hails from Harpo, stations are contractually barred from running the show in a timeslot directly opposite “Oprah Winfrey” in their market.

Winfrey has been grooming Oz to take the helm of his own show for the past year, much as she used her top-rated show as a launching pad for the Harpo-produced “Dr. Phil” and “Rachael Ray” syndie yakkers. Oz’s appearances on Winfrey’s show have consistently ranked among her most-watched episodes.

Sony Pictures TV cut a deal with Harpo in June to distribute “Dr. Oz” (Daily Variety, June 16).

In pitching the show to stations, Sony Pictures TV is emphasizing that the show will offer local cut-in opportunities and Oz-hosted vignettes for stations to run in local newscasts.

“Stations are really responding to Dr. Oz’s strong on-air track record,” said John Weiser, prexy of distribution for Sony Pictures TV.

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