Early To Bet, Early To Rise

The 2014 TV season has barely gotten underway, but TV stations and syndicators are busily setting their sights on 2015.

Already announced and expected to go for fall are Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily and Disney-ABC’s The F.A.B. (which stands for Fun And Beautiful), featuring a panel composed of Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee, Lauren Makk and Leah Ashley. Tribune acquired Crime Watch Daily for late-afternoon time periods, while The F.A.B. is expected to air in the afternoon on the ABCowned stations. Both shows are currently being further cleared across the country.

Monopoly Millionaires’ Club, which will debut on weekends in February, is fully cleared across the country for its 2015 off-cycle debut. That show, which is tied to a new lottery game that launched nationally in October, features Mike & Molly’s Billy Gardell as host, and will be shot in front of a live and participating studio audience in Las Vegas.

Those are the knowns. Waiting in the wings are some unknowns that have yet to make their debuts in the marketplace.

CBS Television Distribution is developing another panel talker, Man in the Middle, starring Jerry O’Connell and three women: his wife Rebecca Romijn, Garcelle Beauvais and Michelle Collins.

A logical spot for that show is on the CBS Owned Television Stations in the mornings, but those stations currently air Sony Pictures Television’s Queen Latifah, which the group bought in a two-year deal. A station group spokesman has said the group is happy with Queen Latifah’s performance, where it hit a 1.1 season high in households in the week ended Oct. 19, according to Nielsen Media Research, but that show’s renewal isn’t guaranteed. Should Latifah not return, CTD hopes to secure that time slot for Man in the Middle, according to sources.

“The next thing we’ll probably hear about is Man in the Middle and then more clearances for The F.A.B.,” says Bill Carroll, vice president, programming, Katz Media Group.

Also in development is an access talk show with Craig Ferguson, who’s currently starring in Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, which airs in afternoon and access time periods on Tribune, Sinclair and other stations across the country. No announcement about a talk show starring Ferguson has been made yet, although it’s been anticipated for several weeks. Sources expect Debmar-Mercury to be attached as distributor while Tribune will air the show on its owned stations.

Celebrity Name Game has gotten off to a relatively slow start in its rookie year in syndication, but in the week ended Oct. 19, it grew 50% among women 25-54, from a 0.6 to a 0.9, making it the highestrated rookie in that key demo. If that trend continues, Celebrity Name Game will be in a good position for renewal.

Also potentially in the mix are the three homegrown shows that Fox tested this summer on some of its owned stations: two strips, Hollywood Today Live and The Daily Helpline, and one weekly, Laughs. Laughs was recently given an order for four more episodes, and continues to air in its test run. While ratings for The Daily Helpline were anemic, the jury is still out on Hollywood Today Live, which started its life as a Web series.

Another series in the works comes from Rohrs Media Group, run by former Sony executive John Rohrs, which distributes weekly drama The Pinkertons. Sources say Rohrs is shopping a strip for next fall currently titled Safe and Secure with Bill Stanton. Stanton is a former New York City cop and an expert on stalking and cybersecurity, as well as a private investigator, who has appeared on NBC News. Terry Murphy, executive producer of SPT’s The Nate Berkus Show, has signed on in that same slot, according to sources.

Meanwhile, this year’s crop of rookie series is only getting started. CTD’s Hot Bench, a panel court show created by Judge Judy Sheindlin, is surprising some with its success, averaging a 1.5 household rating in the week ended Oct. 19 and leading all rookies. If those ratings remain, that show is likely to be renewed for next year.

Meanwhile, Celebrity Name Game is moving up in the demographics, while NBCU’s Meredith Vieira and Warner Bros.’ The Real are holding steady.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.