A variety-talk show with American Idol judge Harry Connick Jr. from NBCUniversal tops the shows being developed for first-run syndication for fall 2016, according to sources. Warner Bros. is prepping the return of Love Connection and a talk show with personal finance wiz Suze Orman. Fox will be testing two or three show this summer, while Debmar-Mercury and partner Gannett work on an interactive show.
The 2016 first-run syndication season is still 17 months out, but development for it is already shaping up to be more active than it was for this fall, which yielded only a few high-profile shows, including Disney-ABC’s The FAB Life and Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily.
Topping the list of projects for 2016 so far is a talk-variety show from NBCUniversal Domestic Television featuring Harry Connick Jr., one of the American Idol judges, according to several industry sources.
The show will tap into Connick’s various talents, from singing to acting, while building on his frequent guest appearances on shows like Warner Bros.’ Ellen and Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael, the sources say.
“He is talented and a big-enough name that you would expect it won’t be a panel talk show,” says a rival syndication executive.
“It’ll be more like Ellen, which I’d call a variety show, than [NBCUniversal’s] Meredith Vieira or Steve Harvey, which are topic driven,” says a source. “A Harry Connick Jr. show is better suited for NBC stations than Tribune stations, which air NBC’s confrontational talk shows.”
Citing company policy, an NBC spokesperson would not comment on shows in development.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is prepping a remake of the dating game Love Connection with comedian Loni Love. She currently co-hosts the syndicator’s recently renewed panel talk show The Real.
The show may be pushed up to this fall if a major group like Tribune is interested, says a broadcaster familiar with the project.
Warner Bros. could launch Love Connection on a limited basis in 2015 and then expand it nationally in 2016.That’s the strategy Warner Bros. has used with shows like TMZ Live.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. had no comment.
Warner Bros. earlier this year announced that it is developing Suze Orman’s Money Wars with the financial expert helping people resolve financial problems and money-related disputes. Money Wars could go to cable rather than broadcast.
“That show is very high on Warner Bros.’ list of shows in development,” says a station group executive.
At the end of this month Orman will wrap up 14 years hosting CNBC’s weekend program The Suze Orman Show.
This summer, the Fox TV Stations will test up to three shows, according to sources. That includes its already announced Boris & Nicole with Soul Food’s husband-wife actors Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker.
Another possibility for a Fox TV Stations summer test is a talk show with Law & Order: SVU’s Ice-T and his wife Coco. They starred in the E! reality show Ice Loves Coco.
Under a partnership announced last year, Debmar-Mercury and Gannett have been working to develop a show with an interactive element of some kind that they can shop to stations in 2016. “They’re looking at prime access for that show,” says a syndication executive.
The effort may get a boost from Bob Sullivan, who Gannett just hired from Scripps to oversee its development and syndication acquisitions.
A spokesperson for Debmar-Mercury had no comment.
Two other major syndicators — Sony Pictures Television and CBS Television Distribution — may have projects in development, but if so broadcasters and other syndicators have not gotten wind of them.
There had been some talk that CTD would resurrect Man in the Middle, a panel show with Jerry O’Connell that it had pitched for 2015, for 2016. But prospects for it have dimmed lately.
“It’s deader than a doornail,” says one station group executive.
A spokesperson for CTD says the syndicator doesn’t comment on development.
“It’s hard to know what CBS is planning since [former creative affairs president] Hilary Estey McLoughlin is no longer there,” says a syndication executive. “She has a production deal with them.”
CTD replaced McLoughlin last month by expanding the duties of Angelica McDaniel, VP of daytime programming at CBS, to include development for CTD.
Sony, which is now wrapping up the second and final season of talk show Queen Latifah, says it is “staying quiet” about development at this point.
How many shows actually make it to air in fall 2016 will depend in part on what time slots open up.
NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira will return for a second season this fall, but has not yet been renewed beyond that. If it goes, it will open prime slots on the NBC O&Os.
“[NBCUniversal] renewed Meredith Vieira because NBC stations want to hold onto those time periods for Harry Connick Jr.,” says one group executive.
Other shows yet to be renewed for 2016 include Debmar-Mercury game show Celebrity Name Game with Craig Ferguson, court shows including Trifecta’s Judge Faith and station group-created shows like Right This Minute from Cox, Raycom and Scripps.
NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk has has only a one-year deal. If it doesn’t perform well, it will be gone by fall 2016.