"Marie" dropped – before it begins

After speculation that Marie Osmond’s new talk show would not go forward, Program Partners made it official today.

The daily talk-show strip was to premiere on September 14 in 80 percent of the country, including WCIU-TV in Chicago. It has been reported some stations had been pulling their offers to air the show.

The weak ad market, the recession, and general economic conditions led to the decision to pull the plug on the series for fall.

News of the possibility of the cancellation first came from Mediaweek’s Marc Berman and his Programming Insider Podcast. When he e-mailed Program Partners regarding the fate of the show, he didn’t receive any answer.

The move comes as a huge blow for Program Partners, which now has no new first-run strips in production. Two current programs on stations’ schedules – Family Court with Judge Penny and Merv Griffin Crosswords – are not coming back this fall. The latter show – which premiered in September 2007 – had been in production hiatus for over a year, and planned to resume production for new episodes in January 2009. However, those plans never materialized.

Program Partners continues to syndicate numerous weekly series, and Canadian import Degrassi: The Next Generation, which runs on The N and on CTV.

As for Marie Osmond, she performs with her brother Donny in a Las Vegas five times a week, where the talk show would’ve have been taped. Both Osmonds co-hosted a daily talk show in syndication from 1998 to 2000 for Columbia TriStar Television.

The Bugzburg example

A syndicated program getting pulled from production with a high clearance rate among stations is nothing new. Back in 1989, Group W cleared an animated kids’ series titled Bugzburg in 90 percent of the country for a September premiere. But when parent Westinghouse sold the company producing the show (Filmation, which was an a cartoon studio powerhouse in the 1960’s and 1970s), plans for the series were abruptly abandoned.

In case you were wondering, Bugzburg was pitched as an animated series about a community of fireflies. It was Filmation’s last program in development before the studio closed.