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Judge Alex Clears Fox-Heavy 50%

Twentieth Television said it has cleared its new court show, Judge Alex, in one-half of the country, the majority on stations owned by the syndicator's parent, Fox.

Sales are building  ahead of next week's NATPE conference in Las Vegas, said Twentieth Executive Vice President Paul Franklin.

The half-hour strip, which Twentieth says would be the first new court show in four years, features Florida Circuit Court Judge Alex E. Ferrer. It's executive produced by Karen Melamed, Sharon Sussman and Burt Wheeler.

In addition to being cleared on the Fox group, which covers 40% of the country, Judge Alex has also been picked up by Cox's KTVU San Francisco and Viacom's WFOR Miami. Other markets cleared include Cincinnati; Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.; Indianapolis; Louisville; and Nashville.

In a recent interview Twentieth President Bob Cook described the 44-year-old magistrate as handsome, young, intelligent and tall. Born in Havana, Ferrer and his family fled to America at the age of one. "He's sort of the John Wayne of the court room," Cook said.

Cook added: "He demands law and order. He's dealt with tough cases from murders to ones involving drug lords in Miami. He's also got a warm side and a sense of humor."

Twentieth is also developing two other strips it hopes to launch this year, an updated version of A Currrent Affair (targeted to premier on Fox O&Os in April or May) and an hour talk show about relationships and money hosted by personal-finance expert Suze Orman.