Media Notepad: WGA, AMPTP reach tentative deal

Also: Ryan & Kelly an early hit; Steve Harvey names new EP; WGN-TV launches new lifestyle show 

Whew… that was close! The Writers Guild Of America and The American Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a tentative last-minute deal Tuesday morning averting a strike that would have sent writers to the picket line. The agreement comes after a week of long negotiating sessions. While details weren’t immediately made available, writers obviously won gains in the contribution of their health plan and increases in pay tv and subscription video on-demand residuals.

Last week, the guild took a strike authorization vote, with 96 percent voting yes. The negotiations went a little past the midnight PT time deadline. Had they failed, 13,000 WGA writers – both east and west – would have hit the picket lines, putting a halt to late-night talk shows, soap operas, and Saturday Night Live, which as been on a ratings roll this season. A strike also would have delayed the upcoming television season, forcing the major networks to air reruns similar to what happened at the start of 1981-82 and 1988-89 seasons and forced many programs during the 2007-08 season to close up shop early.

Since the last strike, two recent rounds of contract negotiations went smoothly, but was a lot more difficult this time around thanks to marketplace changes: the number of scripted TV series soared in recent years (to about 450), the decline of the DVD market, and the growing popularity of on-demand streaming.


Monday’s debut of Disney/ABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan with Ryan Seacrest as the new host of the daytime franchise certainly drew a crowd: According to Nielsen live-plus-same day overnight ratings via Broadcasting & Cable, the show earned a 3.1 rating/11 share, up 48 percent from the April 24th show and in the 25 LPM markets (which measures demos), Ryan & Kelly delivered a 1.3/11, up 44 percent from the previous Monday.

Kelly & Ryan won its time period in the top five markets including Chicago, where WGN Morning Newscast topped Live for the first time ever at 9 a.m. in February. Ironically, Live aired on WGN in the same time period until 2013 when it moved to its current home of WLS-TV.

In the just-released syndication ratings for the week ending April 23, Live tied Ellen for second place with a 2.2 household rating, behind top-rated Dr. Phil. Given the strong start for Seacrest, look for Live to have second place to itself in a few weeks.

For those wondering what is the least-watched talk show in syndication, it’s a tie between CBS’ The Doctors and Warner Bros.’ The Real, both with a 0.8 rating – the latter now down to four panelists with the firing of Tamar Braxton last year.


Just call him Steve as the exodus of Steve Harvey’s show from Chicago is now complete. This past week, NBCUniversal Television Distribution announced Shane Farley is the new executive producer of Harvey’s new talk show, which is being retitled Steve. Farley brings 25 years experience to the position, which includes stints on Rachael Ray, Wayne Brady, and Rosie O’Donnell. Starting Sept. 5, Steve is being produced by IMG and will continue air over NBC-owned WMAQ at 2 p.m. Barring any moves by Fox-owned WFLD, Steve will go head-to-head with another NBCU talk show: Harry, featuring Harry Connick Jr., which has a similar format and based in New York.

With his show’s move to Universal Studios in Hollywood, Harvey has put his condo in Trump International Hotel up for sale, according to the Chicago Tribune. Harvey is also shifting his syndicated morning radio show from Atlanta to L.A. and was recently re-upped in a multi-year deal.

Harvey’s show marks the latest talk show departure from Chicago. In 2009, NBCUniversal moved Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos’ talk shows out of NBC Tower to Stamford, Conn. to take against of tax cuts given by the state of Connecticut. In 2011, The Oprah Winfrey Show ended its run and Harpo Studios closed its West Loop campus a few years later. Another show taped at NBC Tower (Judge Jeanine Pirro) was canceled in 2011. The departures leave NBC Tower with only Judge Mathis, which has been a tenant since it premiered in 1999.

Still, Chicago is well-represented in primetime, home to several Dick Wolf “Chicago” shows, Fox’s Empire, APB (for now) , and several other projects.


Like we need another food/lifestyle/shopping show: WGN hurriedly debuted a new weekly show Sunday called S.E.E. Chicago. Hosted by author and nutrition expert Dawn Jackson Blatner, the series spotlights Chicago’s shopping, entertainment, and lifestyle scene (S.E.E. stands for Shopping, Entertainment, and Events. Wow.)

The program premiered at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, in a weekend late-night daypart known for such fare. NBC-owned WMAQ airs a somewhat similar lifestyle show after SNL titled 1st Look, though its focuses more on travel and is hosted by Ashley Roberts (1st Look was also the title for a short-lived 1991-92 syndicated magazine show created by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous‘ creator Al Masini.) A local Chicago version of 1st Look previously aired, but quietly ceased production a few years back.

SEE Chicago also airs Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. on WGN-TV and rerun during the week on CLTV (not available in all areas.)

WGN launched a website specifically for the show SEEChicagoTV.com., where viewers can see clips. Currently on the site, you can watch clips featuring a tour of Graceland Cemetery (in Chicago), a classroom visit from Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk sponsored by South Holland’s Carl Buddig & Co., and one on Urban Remains and the Intercontinental Hotel.

Also on the website: “Holiday Fun In Rosemont”. Never too early…

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