T Dog’s Grab Bag: The syndication edition

It’s a syndication edition of T Dog’s Grab Bag. Reach in!

Is this a sign Oprah’s relationship with CBS Television Distribution is over? Ms. Winfrey’s production company is developing a new talk show with designing expert Nate Berkus –  and Sony Pictures Television, the company that’s syndicating Dr. Oz. with Harpo Productions. Berkus has been on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the last eight years.The strip is expected to launch in fall 2010.

The move to Sony – which until this year, did not have a successful talk show in first-run since the heyday of Ricki Lake (when it was Columbia TriStar Television) – has boosted the independent studio’s profile.

Earlier this month, speculation grew on whether or not Ms. Winfrey will continue her talk show with CBS, change syndicators to Sony, or moving the program to her new cable network, which launches next year. Her contract with CBS expires in 2011.

-Debmar-Mercury has renewed The Wendy Williams Show through 2012, on Fox-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Chicago, despite WFLD moving the show from 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. recently.

The self-proclaimed “Queen of All Media” was recently inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame. Ms. Williams’ radio gigs included WQHT-FM (Hot 97) and WBLS-FM, both in New York.

– Debmar also cleared TBS sitcom Meet The Browns from Tyler Perry in 70 percent of the country, including Chicago’s… you guessed it: WCIU-TV, which already airs Tyler Perry’s other sitcom, House of Payne.

Look, be grateful it’s Meet the Browns and not Comedy Central’s Secret Girlfriend, which hands down, is  the worst sitcom in the history of television.

In what has to be a first (and goes to show you what power a single station group can have on the industry), Judge Karen – a failed first-run courtroom strip from last season – is coming back next season after all – and you can thank – or blame – Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

After Sony canceled the series and Judge David Young last year to focus more on launching newer fare like Dr. Oz., Sinclair convinced the show’s agents, which convinced Litton Entertainment to revive the series for first run sydnciation for fall 2010, under the new title Judge Karen’s Court. Sinclair is already on board of course, and other station groups are likely to join them.

Locally, Judge Karen aired at 2 p.m. weekdays last fall on WCIU, but moved to 10 a.m. after Sony pulled the plug. The courtroom show also aired on cable network BET.

Sinclair said Judge Karen did well for its 60+ plus station group, even though the show wasn’t doing well anywhere else. Sinclair – which owns stations in downstate Springfield and Champaign and two stations in Milwaukee – has often labeled as the poster child of what’s wrong in the television business. The station group has been criticized for owning large number of stations and once used its clout to block an episode of Nightline in seven markets in 2003 when it featured a tribute to those killed in the Iraq War. The group in the past has also been criticized for cutting corners on its local newscasts to save money, using a centralized news operations titled NewsCentral to distribute prepackaged news segments.

While the return of Judge Karen Mills-Francis to television is indeed good news to her fans (I know what you’re saying… what fans?), you have to wonder about just how much clout – and influence – large station groups like Sinclair have on whether or not a show lives or dies – no matter what the rating is.

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