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Marie' Makes It

Ending months of speculation about its fate, Program Partners has cleared its first-run talk show, Marie, on NBC Universal's WNBC New York and Tribune's KTLA Los Angeles, Program Partners co-principal Ritch Colbert announced last week at NATPE in Las Vegas.

Counting the show's other clearances, Marie is sold in 70% of the country.

Besides NBC and Tribune, Marie also is sold to stations in the Belo, CBS, Cox, CW 100+, Gray, LIN, Local TV, Meredith, Newport, Post-Newsweek, Raycom, Sinclair and Schurz groups.

Osmond will shoot the show from Las Vegas, where she's signed a two-year deal to appear at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino with her brother, Donny. Donny is expected to appear on the next season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, which starts in March.

Marie will truly reflect my personality,” said Osmond, calling herself “optimistic, humorous, adaptable, inquisitive, concerned and rarely predictable.”

Program Partners sold the hour-long strip on a cash-plus-barter basis, with a 3½ minute/10½ minute local/national barter split.

Program Partners first announced Marie during NATPE 2008, when Osmond was just coming off her own successful run on Dancing With the Stars and a highly rated appearance on CBS Television Distribution's The Oprah Winfrey Show. She and Donny began performing to sold-out shows in Vegas last September.

With TV stations tightening their belts in tough economic times, deals were few and far between at this year's conference, although a few were announced.

Twentieth's off-net sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, is cleared in 75% of the country for a fall 2010 debut, said Bob Cook, president and COO. Clearances include the Fox Television Stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and in 23 of the top 25 markets, including Philadelphia and Dallas.

Besides Fox, Hearst-Argyle, Tribune, CBS Television, Raycom, Gannett, Cox, Belo, Hubbard and Bahakel broadcast groups have cleared the show.

Litton Entertainment announced that Storm Stories, which Litton acquired from The Weather Channel, will return for season two. Storm Stories, which mostly airs on the weekends, allows TV stations to incorporate local weather talent and news into the show.

Litton also said that its first-run strip Street Court, starring Michael “Judge Mazz” Mazzariello, is a firm go for fall 2009, with 65% of the country cleared. The show's clearances include stations in the Barrington, Belo, Capitol, CBS, Cox, Hearst-Argyle, Journal, Local TV, Mission, Newport, Roberts, Sinclair, Tribune and Weigel broadcast groups. And Twentieth Television is partnering with search engine Yahoo to develop a show called Yahoo! Buzz.

The show will use Yahoo's search engine to identify the top 10 things for which people are searching at the time and then expand on those topics. Twentieth is in talks with former MTV veejay Ananda Lewis to host the show, which Twentieth hopes to test on stations in coming months.

At presstime, Twentieth's Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? still is expected to launch next fall, although no deals were announced at NATPE. NBC Universal also is expected to renew Deal or No Deal for season two, especially after the show hit a series high 2.0 live-plus-same-day national household average in the week ended Jan. 18. CBS Television Distribution's The Doctors and Disney-ABC's Legend of the Seeker join Litton's Storm Stories as the rookies to thus far get a shot at another season. Warner Bros.' talk strip, Bonnie Hunt, and Debmar-Mercury's off-TBS House of Payne each also are expected to return for season two.

Whether Warner Bros. would launch its off-CW court show, Jeanine Pirro, into syndication was a question.

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.