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Fox TV Stations Greenlight ‘Central Ave’ From Will Packer, Debmar-Mercury

Fox Television Stations has ordered the weekly entertainment news magazine “Central Ave,” which hails from prolific film and TV producer Will Packer and Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury.

Debmar-Mercury and Will Packer Media will produce two half-hour shows per week of “Central Ave,” which tackles pop culture and other topics from a “socially conscious and diverse lens,” per Debmar. The show is hosted by former BET personality Julissa Bermudez and Olympic track star Sanya Richards-Ross.

“Central Ave” had a test run in November as a half-hour strip. The partners liked what they saw enough to try for a national launch in a weekly format starting in September.

“With our consensus being shows like this rarely come along, and with an unusually crowded weekday market this fall, we looked toward the weekends,” said Debmar chiefs Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus.  “We believe ‘Central Ave’ has a good chance to thrive airing in strong weekend time periods with all original episodes and ultimately return as a weekday strip.”

Monique Chenault will serve as showrunner of “Central Ave” and exec produce with Packer and Will Packer Media’s Kelly Smith.

“This pickup by Fox underscores what I’ve always known: there is an audience for cool, diverse, unique perspectives. Can’t wait to bring that audience to stations nationwide,” Packer said.

As a weekly entry, “Central Ave” is not a large commitment for Fox, but it could be a kind of incubator for a show that the stations see as having promise.

“I thought the test was very well executed, but let’s face it, this is as close as I’ll ever get to hanging out with Will Packer on the weekend,” quipped Frank Cicha, Fox Television Station’s exec VP of programming.

Debmar-Mercury unveiled the pickup on the eve of the first-run syndication market’s annual NATPE conference in Miami. Debmar will be one of the busiest distributors at the show as it is also launching a high-profile talk show strip hosted by Nick Cannon, also carried by Fox stations, and it is selling off-network rights to the offbeat PopTV comedy “Schitt’s Creek.”

(Pictured: Julissa Bermudez, Will Packer and Sanya Richards-Ross)

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