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Petry, Katz Grade Syndie Shows

Of all the new talk shows being readied for fall, Katz Television gives The Wayne Brady Show
its "primary recommendation" for the 2003-04 season. Brady
gets the kudos for being a "known commodity that is advertiser-friendly and still growing creatively."

But before you submit an aggressive bid to Buena Vista listen to a word of caution from Petry Media: "Wayne
started out promising this season but has not posted the October-to-November increases we expect to see in new programs."

Petry says Wayne
needs to turn in a strong February performance "if we're to feel confident in his success for year 2."

The two major rep firms yearly unveil their winners and losers shortly before NATPE, and, for tea-leaf readers, noting where they agree and disagree is a rite of the syndie buying season.

Katz issued its reviews and recommendations of the new crop of syndication shows to station clients several weeks ago via satellite. Petry Media issued a print presentation to clients last week.

Technically, Wayne Brady
is headed into its second season, but Katz considers it "new" because Buena Vista Television rolled it out slowly this season; next season, it gets full national distribution.

Katz cites other new talk shows that probably deserve a look, including
Living It Up! With Ali & Jack, Fergie, Sharon Osbourne, Ellen DeGeneres
and Ask Rita.
Petry praises Ellen, with
a caveat: "Does Ellen have baggage in Middle America that will cause daytime audiences to reject her?" (In other words, "Yep, she's still a lesbian.")

As for Living It Up!, Petry says the big issue there is whether the dual-host format will work in the talk setting. Some have tried in syndication, but only Regis and Kelly
has succeeded; Katz recommends stations not schedule Living It Up!
against the Reeg.

Petry says Fergie's Sarah Ferguson will have to prove she can cut it as a talk-show host. Doing Weight Watcher's commercials just isn't in the same league (although she did have brief stint as a talk host in the UK).

Petry says that Sharon Osbourne
will go after Ricki Lake's women 18-34 demo and notes, "Ricki Lake
has lost a lot of ground with this audience."

Both reps conclude Sony Pictures Television's new magazine hybrid eBay TV
is a risky proposition. Katz calls it "innovative" but withholds a recommendation citing "so many unanswered questions," including the launch group, which will have a "profound impact on the potential focus and direction of the finalized series."

Petry says the format is untested and the home shopping element could prove "cumbersome," although a potential new revenue stream "may prove tempting to some stations."

Among the off-network sitcoms debuting next fall, Katz likes King of Queens
best. (Malcolm in the Middle
gets the nod for 2004). Petry doesn't endorse one over others but does explore the issue of double runs. Results vary, but, in many cases, Petry says, "go for it. Two really can be better than one."