Syndie Millionaire gaining momentum

With ABC scaling back Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to two nights a week on the network next fall, plans to syndicate the game show are heating up.

Executives at the show's distributor, Buena Vista Television, always believed syndicating the show was a real possibility, but wanted to avoid over-extending the property - which could be avoided in this new scenario. The show's distributor, Buena Vista Television, declined comment. But sources say that its sales executives are poking around with stations to decipher interest in syndicating the show starting fall 2002.

NBC Enterprises has more concrete plans to launch another popular network game show into syndication The Weakest Link, but sources indicate the company is not afraid of the new, arguably stiff competition. With Hollywood Squares often running as two, back-to-back half-hour episodes on stations, there's word NBC might similarly push to get stations to pair up Weakest Link and Millionaire. As to who may host the syndicated Weakest Link - it looks like Richard Hatch is out - insiders say that could come in a couple of weeks. It's expected that Millionaire executive Michael Davies would also head up the strip version, but sources say that it might be tough for current host Regis Philbin to do the same, considering he's also part of Buena Vista's Live with Regis and Kelly.
- Susanne Ault