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Syndie Insider

Kelly Out But Regis

Even though Kelly Ripa was on vacation, Buena Vista's Live With Regis and Kelly
was syndication's top gainer in the week ended March 28. With guest hosts Jay Leno, Donald Trump, Ben Affleck, and Regis Philbin's wife, Joy, occupying Ripa's seat, the show rose 10% to a 3.4 national household rating for the week.

Also among talkers, No.1 The Oprah Winfrey Show, from King World, was up 9% to 6.1, and the distributor's Dr. Phil, the No. 2 show, rose 9% to 4.8.

Most syndicated shows were down, with many preempted on CBS affiliates by the second week of the NCAA basketball tournament. Shows running against the games also were hurt.

Heritage In Chapter 11

After winning a fierce legal battle to gain the rights to air historic urban program Showtime at the Apollo, The Heritage Networks is fighting against bankruptcy.

Heritage filed a reorganization plan with a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Texas. The plan includes pre-negotiated arrangements with Heritage's major creditors to pay back debts.

Heritage expects the court to approve the package and issue a confirmation plan within 90 days. If that happens, Heritage can emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection quickly and set up new financing. According to Willow Sanchez, Heritage's general counsel, funding has already been arranged.

As part of the company's restructuring, founder Frank Mercado Valdes has stepped aside, turning over day-to-day management to Charles Walker, formerly a restructuring banker with Lehman Bros. in New York.

Trolls the Next Big (Old) Thing?

DIC Entertainment is acquiring the worldwide entertainment and licensing rights to the troll, the venerable, crazy-haired, bulging-eyed character that has been a goofy novelty toy for 50 years.

DIC is going to produce TV show Trollz, with accompanying videos and merchandise, for 2005. An interactive Web site will go up this Christmas, preceding the show's launch. Since it was created, the troll character has generated as much as $5 billion in worldwide sales for The Troll Co. DIC retains worldwide rights to the character, except for Scandinavia, where Troll is headquartered.