Jonathan Brandmeier returns to TV

Seventeen years after Jonathan Brandmeier’s syndicated TV show came – and went – quickly, he’s taking another stab at the small screen.

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is set to air two half-hour specials featuring Brandmeier on Dec. 6 at 1:05 a.m. (that’s Saturday morning, not Saturday night) and the other airing a week later on Sunday night, after Sports Sunday. It is titled Almost Live… with Jonathan Brandmeier. WMAQ’s current general manager (Larry Wert) was also Brandmeier’s boss at WLUP-FM in the 1980’s and the early 1990’s.

If all goes well, more specials may be ordered.

Brandmeier’s last TV gig (Johnny B. on the Loose, a T Dog’s TV Hall of Shame inductee), a co-production of NBC and Viacom, debuted on June 24, 1991 in a temporary 6:30 p.m. prime-access time slot on WMAQ (the time slot would be overtaken in the fall by repeats of Married.. With Children.) Ratings for the critically-panned show started off strong, but by the end of its first week, they dropped by half.

Then two weeks later, Brandmeier’s show got an jolt from the FCC. Not because of content, but because of the prime-time access rule, which at the time probhited ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates from airing network programming – new or old – in the hour before prime-time. And this would effect Johnny B. because of NBC’s involvement in the show .

As a result, WMAQ moved Johnny B. to 12:30 a.m., two months earlier than planned. The ruling by the FCC also affected CBS affiliate KMOV’s airing of the show in St. Louis, since it also had it in prime-access. Then-independent KCOP-TV in Los Angeles also yanked it from its 7:30 p.m. slot. The three moves – along with already low national numbers, pretty much sealed its fate. Viacom ended Johnny B. for good four weeks later, becoming one of the shortest first-run syndicated series in television history.

Despite NBC producing the show, WMAQ was the only NBC O&O to ever air it.

Brandmeier’s new effort is not expected to go into national syndication.

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