Time to take “The Test”

Captain Kirk Fox
Captain Kirk says take “The Test”.

Kirk Fox is trading in the peace, tranquility, and the small-town values of Pawnee, Ind. for baby mama drama in the big city.

The Parks & Recreation star and stand-up comic has taken a rather unusual job – being a mediator in a new fall 2013 show called The Test, a conflict-resolution talk show where DNA evidence and lie-detector resolves paternity disputes, a la Maury (God, do we need another one of these shows?)

Produced by Jay McGraw’s (son of Dr. Phil) Stage 29 Productions, the series has cleared Tribune Broadcasting stations, owners of WGN-TV in Chicago, and those of Sinclair Broadcasting, owners of the WCGV/WVTV duopoly in Milwaukee . All three stations air conflict talk show blocks.

Already, WPIX (a Tribune station) is slotting Test at 4 p.m., replacing The Ricki Lake Show. While no time period has been announced for WGN, an hour is opening up in the fall thanks to the departure of Live With Kelly and Michael for ABC-owned WLS-TV.

But Kirk Fox as host? A better choice would’ve been Jason Lee – after all, he did star in My Name Is Earl, where baby mama drama and dysfunction was the main plot almost every week…

In other syndication news:

– And there’s more good syndie news for CBS and the McGraw family: the company’s Dr. Phil is on track to secure renewals through the 2016-17 season by the time NATPE begins on January 28. Phil is currently syndication’s top-rated talk show, with a 3.0 household rating, ahead for second-place Live With Kelly and Michael. Just a few years ago, CBS had to slash the license fees just to keep Dr. Phil on the air in renewal negotiations. But with the talker’s improved ratings performance, the negotiations are going smoothly this time around. Confirmed renewals include stations in Seattle, Portland OR, Indianapolis, and Columbus, OH.

Look for WBBM-TV – and other stations owned by CBS who currently carry the show – to re-up through 2017. Dr. Phil airs in Chicago at 3 p.m.

– Warner Bros./Telepictures’ new Bethenny talk show has now cleared 97 percent of the country, with the huge majority of clearances on Big Three affiliates. In addition to seventeen Fox-owned stations (including Chicago’s WFLD), other station groups ranging from NBC to Hearst to Gannett have also cleared the show featuring the former Real Housewife.

Meanwhile, Bethenny Frankel made headlines of her own last week by announcing the end of her marriage to Jason Hoppy and both landed on the cover of Us Magazine. Both were featured in the Bravo reality show Bethenny Ever After.