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UDT Moves Into Reality Fare

As part of a push to develop unscripted programming for network prime time and basic cable as well as first-run syndication, Universal Domestic Television's has signed Trading Spaces
executive producer Denise Cramsey to an overall development deal.

Cramsey became executive producer of Trading Spaces
for TLC in May 2001. The show was nominated for Emmy Awards in 2002 after it became a pop-culture hit and drove TLC into basic cable's top-10 networks. She has been producing shows for TLC since May 1995, when she helped create Medical Detectives.

"We believe that we can translate some of her success in cable into other media," says Lisa Hackner, executive vice president of programming and development for UDT. "It puts a first-run syndication company like ours into the network reality business."

"What [Denise] has proven by turning Trading Spaces into a huge hit for an ambitious young cable network is that a strong producer can deliver product that breaks through in a multichannel universe," says UDT President Steve Rosenberg.

Cramsey comes to Universal as the syndicator looks to broaden its development slate, much as Sony Pictures Television has done in evolving from Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has done with Telepictures. Both syndicators sell programming to network prime time and cable outlets, and Universal believes it too can be successful with that business model.

Sony and Universal aren't owned by corporations that also own networks or TV stations, so it's harder for them to get first-run shows on the air. Syndicators NBC Enterprises, Twentieth Television, King World and Paramount Domestic Television have connections to networks and stations.

Hackner came to UDT last January from Telepictures, where she spent 13 years. "My main focus is to break us out of the traditional first-run syndication business and into other areas," she says, although first-run syndication will remain the priority for UDT.

Following Hackner's hire, UDT brought on Dan Weiss from Carsey-Werner-Mandabach to oversee the marketing of Universal programs for both the domestic and international TV markets, including worldwide pay-per-view and video-on-demand.

"There's a concerted effort within the company to really be strategic in the marketplace," Hackner says, "whether it's with sales, programming or marketing."

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.