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No lowdown on Dr. Laura

Appearing in person at Paramount's marketing workshop at the Promax/BDA convention in New Orleans, Dr. Laura Schlessinger could have given the lowdown on her new show's format or talked about losing Procter & Gamble as a sponsor.

But she didn't talk about either, to the chagrin of at least one attendee whose station is set to air the syndicated chat series in September.

According to audience accounts of Thursday's closed-to-the-press session, Paramount execs and Schlessinger-dogged by gay protests against the show-did reveal two on-deck Dr. Laura slogans: "911 call to your conscience" (a play on the show's planned Sept. 11 start date) and "Let the dialogue begin."

Nevertheless, "This does not raise confidence in me. I'm not sure that, based just on these promos, the show will be able to make it to launch," said T.J. Laffan, a promotions producer at NBC affiliate WICU-TV Erie, Pa., following the session. "The [slew of gay rights] protests have become a great concern for me, and the promos will just raise more controversy because they don't say anything about what the show will be about."

Laffan went so far as to say "if my vote had any weight, we wouldn't air the show. But I'm just the promotions guy." Baring some teeth, however, he said he would push to air the show "during the midnight or 1 a.m. slot."

But the dearth of Dr. Laura clips wasn't a problem to some; it was enough just to see her in the flesh.

"I've never listened to Dr. Laura's radio show, but she impressed me on the stage," noted Brian Hill of KAUT-TV Oklahoma City

In another vote of support, Jackie Ellens of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., said, "Her radio show is popular in our market, so there will be a good opportunity to cross-promote it with her new show."

And one promo manager from an East Coast station said she "needs a hit show" and believes that Schlessinger's large radio presence is enough to cast her as the lead-in to her evening newscast.

However, one promotions exec from a Texas station walked away from the workshop wishing she had raised one arguably valid point.

"I loved Dr. Joy Browne's radio show, but her [canceled Eyemark] TV show was horrible," she noted. "How will Dr. Laura be different?"

Paramount also held marketing workshops (minus the beefy security guards on hand during Dr. Laura's session) for the off-net launch of Spin City and third season of Judge Joe Brown.

In other goings-on at Promax/BDA 2000:

  • King World said it was teaming up with a major candy company for a multimillion-dollar November sweeps promotion for Wheel of Fortune. The company name wasn't disclosed, but executives slipped that it was based in Hershey, Pa.
  • Universal Worldwide Television said it scheduled cross-promotional campaigns with Seagram's Captain Morgan liquor and Rick's Spiked Lemonade to beat the drum for the second season of Blind Date.
  • Studios USA named Brian Dennehy (1999 Tony winner as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman) the host of its new Dick Wolf-produced reality-based series, Arrest and Trial.