Chicago stations gear up for new syndication season

Queen Latifah's new talk show isn't just on one station in Chicago, but two!
Queen Latifah’s new talk show isn’t just on one station in Chicago, but two!

What’s old is new again – from the hosts to even the programming genres

It’s time to reshuffle the decks again in Chicago television as local stations prepare to usher in the 2013-14 season. You won’t see as many new daytime talkers this fall as you did in 2012 (three compared to five), but you get two new court entries this year and a new late fringe syndicated talk show strip – something not seen in more than ten years. And two of the new faces this new syndication season are familiar ones.

And speaking of returns, the action hour – a staple of local stations’ weekend blocks in the 1990’s – is back with SAF3, the first entry in the genre since Legend Of The Seeker premiered five years ago.

With all of this said, here’s a guide to what you can find in syndication this fall in Chicago:

What’s New

Aside from Arsenio Hall and Queen Latifah (see below), Bethenny Frankel’s talk show (who had a six-week test on select Fox O&Os last summer) returns with a full national launch, including Chicago. Fox’s WFLD-TV has slotted Warner Bros.’ Bethenny at 4 p.m. beginning Sept. 9, replacing Dr. Oz, who moves an hour earlier.

Love paternity drama? Then you’ll love two new syndicated strips debuting this month: CBS Television Distribution’s The Test (3 p.m., WGN-TV, premiering Sept. 9) and MGM’s Paternity Court (WCIU, premiering Sept. 23 – time TBA), with Parks and Recreation’s Kirk Fox presiding over a talk show circus where baby drama is the order of the day (don’t we already have Maury for that?) Sounds like a sitcom, doesn’t it? Paternity Court meanwhile, takes a more courtroom-like approach to determining DNA.

– After two failed attempts at a courtroom show (with Sony and Litton), Judge Karen is hoping a third time’s the charm with Supreme Justice from Entertainment Studios, which premieres Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on The U Too (WCUU, Channel 26.2)

– Trifecta’s three-year old newsmagazine show America Now, hosted by Leeza Gibbons and Bill Rancic, finally arrives in Chicago – but in a 2:30 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday slot on WCIU, beginning Sept. 10.

– Another new series from Trifecta, OK!TV (based on the British tabloid OK) fared much better by landing a 9 p.m. slot on U Too.

– Other new series include weeklies On The Red Carpet from ABC Syndication (WLS-TV, Saturdays 11 p.m. – time approximate), which finally rolls out into national syndication; and Trifecta’s action drama SAF3 (previously known as Rescue 3), which is cleared on WGN-TV and other Tribune stations and premieres the week of Sept. 16.


Five new series make their debuts in syndication this month with the most anticipated series, the Emmy-winning Modern Family, debuting Sept. 23 on WFLD (time period has yet to be determined, but a 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. slot is expected.) USA Network has primetime rights to Modern, and it premieres September 24.

The Middle premieres at 4 p.m. on WGN on Sept. 16, while Sony’s Community premieres at 9:30 p.m. weeknights on WCIU on the same date (plus a 4:30 p.m. slot on U Too.) The Cleveland Show also begins its off-network afterlife the same day, with U Too stripping the animated series at 11 p.m (TBS and adult swim also begin stripping Cleveland this fall.)

For weekends, WPWR-TV has Glee (with Oxygen stripping the show weeknights.)

What’s Old (is New Again)

Guess who’s back? It’s the return of Arsenio Hall and Queen Latifah to the syndication scene after nineteen years and twelve years, respectively. Arsenio returns September 9 on WGN-TV at 10 p.m. with first week guests including Chris Tucker, Lisa Kudrow, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and George Lopez (the latter two each had late-night shows of their own.)

Meanwhile, Latifah opens her week with stars such as John Travolta, Jamie Foxx, will Smith, and Sharon Stone. In an unusual deal, Latifah is airing on two Chicago television stations – first on WBBM-TV at 2 p.m., sold as part of an overall CBS O&O deal. Meanwhile, WCIU bought the show to air in primetime at 7 p.m. This is a homecoming for Queen latifah, whose last syndicated effort (1999-2001) also aired on WCIU.

Latifah has also done promos promoting her show for both stations, perhaps a first in Chicago television lore.

Changing Channels

On Monday, Live (now hosted by Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan), returned to WLS-TV after a 12-year stint at WGN-TV (the series aired on WLS from 1991-93 and again from 1999-2001, with Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford/Kelly Ripa as hosts.) This time however – and as long anticipated – the Disney/ABC – produced show gains the long-coveted 9 a.m. slot once owned by The Oprah Winfrey Show. To make room, WLS shifted Windy City Live to 11 a.m.

Also on the same day, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire moved from WGN-TV to WPWR-TV maintaining its 4 p.m. time slot. Also of note is the show has a new host (Cedric The Entertainer) who replaces Meredith Vieira, who signed with NBCUniversal to host a talk show next fall. In an oddity, Los Angeles’ KNBC-TV gains the show from KTLA, who also dropped the show. Disney/ABC distributes Millionaire; KNBC is an NBCUniversal-owned station. In another oddity, Vierra’s new talk show is likely to take over the 2 p.m. time slot now occupied by Millionaire on KNBC in September 2014.

Other syndicated shows changing channels in Chicago:

After five years of underperforming ratings at WPWR-TV, Everybody Loves Raymond moves back to its original syndication home, WGN-TV. The Tribune-owned station (which ran Raymond from 2001-08, then in a ballyhooed move, shifted to Fox-owned stations in five large markets), plans to air the show at 4:30 p.m.

Both King Of The Hill and Cops (which is being rechristened as Cops Reloaded) are shifting to U Too from WFLD and WPWR, respectively. On Sept. 9, Cops Reloaded airs weeknights at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., while Hill airs weeknights at 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 16. Like Raymond (both entered off-net syndication at the same time in September 2001) enters a new rerun cycle – in Hill‘s case, its second.

What’s Out

As you probably know by now, Anderson Cooper, Ricki Lake, and Jeff Probst no longer have talk shows, and all of them end Friday. But a handful of other, low-profile syndicated shows are also either been canceled, contracts are expiring, or ending their runs:

Jeremy Kyle’s talk show was also canceled this past season, but ends Sept. 13.

As mentioned a few months ago, CBS Television Distribution canceled Judge Joe Brown after a fifteen-season run after Brown and CBS could not come to terms on a new deal to continue the show. His show also ends Friday.

In addition to Probst and Judge Joe, CBS Television Distribution has also canceled late-night dating strip Excused after two seasons, but its void is being filled by Arsenio.

Off-net sitcoms Fraiser, According To Jim, South Park, New Adventures of Old Christine, and Scrubs end their broadcast syndication runs this month, but all of them can be still be found on cable TV somewhere (of these five shows, only South Park remains in original production.)

With Cartoon Network cancelling Star Wars: The Clone Wars after five seasons, the syndicated rerun package also got knocked out after just one season.

[Editor’s Note: An item in an earlier version of this post stated that “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” would be leaving broadcast syndication and replaced by “Law & Order: SVU” was incorrect. “Criminal Intent” is not leaving syndication; in fact, it remains in syndication and is also airing on My Network TV. “Law & Order: SVU” is airing in syndication in a few markets, as well as on My Network TV, USA Network, and of course, on NBC with new episodes. T Dog Media regrets the error.]