'Reel Talk’ Set To Open Wide

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution is hoping to capitalize on this summer’s Spider-Man-and Shrek-fueled resurgence in the film industry by taking weekly movie-review series Reel Talk into national syndication.

The syndicator has sold the half-hour weekend show in more than 85% of the country, mostly morning time periods, for its national debut this fall. “This really happened organically,” says Sean O’Boyle, senior VP/general sales manager for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. “The next obvious evolution was just to take it national.” Clearance will be anchored by the 10 NBC Universal owned-and-operated stations, including WMAQ Chicago, KNBC Los Angeles and WNBC New York, where the show originates.

But since NBCU began selling it after January’s National Association of Television Program Executives confab, Reel Talk has been cleared on stations in other broadcast groups, including CBS, Gannett, Belo, Hearst-Argyle, Hubbard and Sinclair. Among other big-market sales are WBZ Boston, WFTS Tampa, Fla., and WRTV Indianapolis. The show is shot almost year-round, giving stations nearly 52 weeks of originals.

WNBC launched Reel Talk as a local movie series in October 2005. It is a regular time-period winner Saturday mornings at 10, where it will remain after the national roll-out.

Hosted by longtime WNBC film critic Jeffrey Lyons and Independent Film Channel personality Alison Bailes, Reel Talk features reviews of upcoming theatrical and DVD releases, as well as film-industry news and celebrity interviews.

Given its year and a half on the air, the show is a relatively safe national play for NBCU. The talent and production will remain largely unchanged, except for cosmetic changes to its WNBC or NBC branding to make the show appropriate for the non-NBC stations that will carry it.

As with most new shows these days, NBCU is preparing a new Reel Talk Website for multi-platform sponsorship opportunities.

And with only one other show in the genre, Buena Vista’s Ebert and Roeper, O’Boyle believes there is plenty of room in the TV landscape for another film-review show: “There are 19 court shows and a lot of talk shows but really only two movie-review shows.”