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Now Jane's Talking

NBC's work is all but done, having cleared The Jane Pauley Show in more than 75% of the country for a fall 2004 launch. The talker is cleared in all the top 10 markets and in 41 of the top 50. Some 80% of its clearances are in early fringe, leading into stations' local newscasts, according to Ed Wilson, president of NBC Enterprises.

The show has been sold on NBC-owned WNBC-TV New York, KNBC-TV Los Angeles, WMAQ-TV Chicago, WCAU-TV Philadelphia and KNTV-TV San Francisco. It has also been cleared on Hearst-Argyle's WCVB-TV Boston, Scripps-Howard's WXYZ-TV Detroit, Fisher's KOMO-TV Seattle, Gannett's KSDK-TV St. Louis, and Allbritton's WJLA-TV Washington.

"One of the reason that Oprah's been around for almost 20 years is because, after watching the show people stay around and watch the news," Wilson said. "Stations are looking for a show that will do a big rating and then translate that to their newscasts."

NBC Enterprises is down to final negotiations on Jane Pauley's producing team, with Pauley, NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker and NBC Enterprises Senior Vice President Linda Finnell conducting interviews to find the right staff.

"We're looking to hire someone who has run a show like Good Morning, America or the Today
show, and someone to work with that person who has daytime sensibilities," Wilson says.

Meanwhile, NBC Enterprises is gearing up for November sweeps, with five women in the Starting Over
house graduating during sweeps and four new members moving in. "The moves keep the show fresh and interesting every day," says Finnell. "Any time a new woman comes in, she's faced with questions about the other five women. The dynamics are incredible."

Starting Over
has struggled in its first weeks in syndication, averaging a 0.9 national household rating so far, according to Nielsen. Although its national rating is low, it is seeing a relatively strong performance among young females, with nearly 30% of its audience composed of women 18-34. That's the highest percentage of young women watching any first-run show in syndication, followed by Warner Bros.' elimiDate
and Warner Bros.' The Sharon Osbourne Show.

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.