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Getting ready for NATPE

King World
is already placing bets that new talk strip Ananda will be a winner at NATPE 2001 in Las Vegas. January's convention is still two months away, but, after four official days of selling,

has already secured six of the top 10 markets, clearing overall 40% of the U.S.

Signed-up stations-including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, WGN Chicago, KTVU San Francisco and WRC Washington D.C.-also represent various station groups, leading King World to believe that interest for

will be widespread.

"We are talking with the strongest stations, had bidding going on in New York and Los Angeles. Nine NBC stations offered to buy the show, and we decided to take the higher offer," explained Roger King, chair of CBS Enterprises/King World.

King World doesn't have a perfect record with talk shows. "They can fail, I know," says King, pointing out canceled King World strips
The Martin Short Show

. "We learned this lesson ourselves: You can't always turn movie stars, TV stars or rock stars into talk stars."

However, King is standing firmly by his latest effort, explaining that the show's star, Ananda Lewis, has already proved her talk abilities while acting as a veejay on MTV. A single-topic series,
's presentation tape featured an interview with Will Smith. Future episodes will include entertainment and issue-oriented stories.

Also unveiled last week, as an official NATPE 2001 entry, was
Pearson's Car Sharks
a new spin on the classic game show by the same name. Pat Bullard, host of recent FOX special
Surprise Wedding
, will star.
Card Sharks

will start production this spring and will be executive-produced by Kevin Belinkoff (producer on FOX Family Channel's
Shopping Spree
Card Shark

contestants will compete by guessing which card is higher or lower than the ones that came before. Players gain control of the game by correctly answering trivia questions.