Singles Court gets set to serve

Unapix Syndication is going ahead with production of its fall 2000 entry Singles Court.

It had looked a little iffy for the relationship-court hybrid, currently cleared in 60% of the U.S. and set for an Oct. 2 debut. The show was stepping into a market already crowded with court competitors, where Judge Judy is supreme.

"We are an underdog," says Unapix President George Back. "But The Blair Witch Project started from three students at a school in Maryland and wound up a box-office smash to the tune of $200 million."

During the show, Singles Court host Angela Segal will address the difficulties of quarreling couples.

"It will be appealing for audiences to see a new take on this area of relationship problems. This won't be about the cleaner burning a coat or a dog eating someone's rosebush. Our stories are much more real life," Back maintains.

Segal is little known outside WAXN-TV Charlotte, N.C., where the show originated. In contrast, two of the show's new first-run competitors feature the famous: the high-profile lawyers to hold forth on Twentieth TV's Power of Attorney and the notoriously contentious Dr. Laura.

Yet Back sees this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

"There was a time when Judge Judy wasn't known anywhere outside the Bronx. And Oprah went on a strange journey from Memphis to Baltimore to Chicago, then national," he notes.

"Is it better to hire Paul Newman as your host?" he jokes. "Sure it is, but we didn't get him."

Singles Court is co-produced by Red Apple Entertainment. Its supervising producer is Stan Lipsey, with John Boni serving as co-producer and head writer.