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Scrambling for time

Two syndicated strips were snapping up clearances last week. NBC's Weakest Link
is now finalized in the top five markets, with KNBC-TV Los Angeles the latest to sign on, and Columbia TriStar's Pyramid
grabbed some early-fringe time on WPTV(TV) West Palm Beach, Fla., and WMAR-TV Baltimore. And with Buena Vista's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
strip nailing early-fringe slots on CBS O&Os, others could be left scrambling.

"There's always
an advantage of coming out early," says Katz TV's Bill Carroll. "The first ones out will have a shot at more desirable time periods."

Weakest Link
is expected to score KNBC-TV's 3 p.m. spot, currently held by The Rosie O'Donnell Show, expected to leave after 2002. Its other top-five clearances—on WCBS-TV New York, WMAQ-TV Chicago, KYW-TV Philadelphia and KPIX-TV San Francisco—are said to be for either early-fringe or access daypart.

As for Pyramid, "the reaction has been nothing short of spectacular," says Columbia TriStar syndication chief Steve Mosko. The show has won guaranteed pairings with Millionaire
at 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on WPTV-TV and WMAR-TV, respectively. It will be tied to Millionaire
in an early-fringe slot on WFTS(TV) Tampa, Fla.

King World is reportedly aiming Dr. Phil
for daytime and access time slots. Apparently, both CBS O&Os (King World's distribution partner) and Hearst-Argyle stations are interested in slotting the Oprah-styled talk show into their morning lineups. King World executives wouldn't comment on their sales efforts, which insiders say kicked off last week.

For the CBS O&Os, one scenario is that Martha Stewart, a consistent but lower-rated performer airing mostly at 9 a.m. on these outlets, may be bumped for Dr. Phil.

"Stations can sell it," says a source, noting Martha's
advertiser-friendly, upscale content, but King World may stand to ultimately gain more financially from Dr. Phil: A good chunk of Martha's
advertising revenue reportedly goes to host Martha Stewart herself.