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Something About Maury

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution will announce this week that Maury Povich has signed a new, multi-year deal. In addition, his syndicated daytime talk show Maury has been renewed through the 2006-07 season on most Tribune and Sinclair Broadcasting stations.

Povich’s pact with NBC Universal is good for at least the next two years, according to company insiders. The show has been renewed on 16 Tribune stations, representing 10 of the top 12 markets; Sinclair has renewed it in 24 markets.

Maury comes off a season in which it finished the third-highest-rated syndicated talk show among women ages 18-34 and 18-49, trailing Oprah and Dr. Phil. It also has the youngest median age (41.1) of any syndicated talker.

Povich says the show, which concentrates on such topics as out-of-control kids and paternity tests, will continue with its direction. But he acknowledges its content may keep Maury from getting more recognition.

“It’s not as highbrow,” he says. “But if you look at cable news television, except when they are covering the hurricane, it’s all people screaming and yelling at each other all day. I’m not sure their brows are any higher than mine.”

NBC Universal Senior VP/General Sales Manager Sean O’Boyle says the format is working fine. “Most stations that support the broadcast appreciate that he talks to a certain segment of the audience,” he says. “It’s a segment that buys advertising and increases stations’ ratings, so we are past the content of the show.”

New executive producer Paul Faulhaber says Maury aims to be more timely and topical. There will be a segment on a family who survived Hurricane Katrina, and the Natalee Holloway case will be used to set up a story on missing children.

While Povich stays the course, new competitors pop up every year, including Martha Stewart and Tyra Banks this fall. Povich believes it’s key to find a host who sticks to what he or she is known for. “Walking down the runway is one thing,” he says. “Hosting an hour-long talk show is another.”

He advises new hosts to stay true to themselves: “Ellen [DeGeneres] is a natural storyteller, so that made for a good move from comedy to talk. Martha will incorporate what she knows best; I think that’s very smart.”