Hat trick of pink slips within 24 hours dooms shows
In a bizarre occurrence, not one but three first-run syndicated strips were canceled within a span of hours Wednesday – a first in recent memory as their services were no longer needed: three-season veteran Judge Jerry from NBCUniversal Syndication Studios; Debmar-Mercury’s Nick Cannon; and Sony’s The Good Dish, a show that only launched in January.
After his long-running conflict talk show ended in 2018, Springer accepted an offer from NBCUniversal to preside over a courtroom show in an already-crowded genre dominated by Judge Judy. After performing well during its first season, Jerry’s ratings fell the last two years as the pandemic forced shows into reruns and later, to produce them remotely. In Chicago, the show never had a viable time period, airing at 9 a.m. on CW 26 (Weigel’s WCIU) until January 24 when it moved an hour back to 8 a.m. to accommodate the expansion of the station’s Judy block from one hour to two.
This likely marks the end of 77-year-old Springer’s television career, started at WLWT Cincinnati as a news anchor in 1982, and becoming a talk show host in 1991. After his show became known as a haven for trash television, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV made the ill-fated decision in 1997 to add Springer to the station’s 10 p.m. newscast as anchors Carol Marin and Ron Magers resigned in protest, with his commentaries stint lasting only two nights.
Debmar-Mercury signed Cannon to host a daytime talk show to launch in September 2020 with Fox as the main station group before the pandemic hit, and was delayed until this past September. The Masked Singer and Wild N Out host was also under fire for making anti-Semitic remarks on his podcast, for which he later apologized. But Debmar-Mercury launched the show anyway, and the results were predictable – the show averaged a 0.4 household rating and 568,000 total viewers this season, with no signs of growth. Also not helping is Cannon wasn’t exactly the most friendly personality to hang with, as he continued to make tabloid headlines. It’s not sure what Debmar-Mercury saw in him to begin with, even sticking by him after he made those racist remarks.
Cannon’s fate was sealed last week when Fox signed a deal with Warner Bros. to launch Chicago native Jennifer Hudson to air her new talk show starting in September, including Fox 32 (WFLD) here in Chicago where she’ll likely take his 1 p.m. slot. Production ends Thursday, but will have enough originals to last through the May sweeps.
As for The Good Dish, the cancellation is a bit of a shock given most syndicated programs in recent years generally get one or two years to prove themselves, but it was in an unusual position to begin with as the show was a replacement in most markets for Dr. Oz, who quit late last year to run for a senate seat in Pennsylvania. On January 16, Dish premiered as a cooking show hosted by Oz’s daughter Daphne, with co-hosts Gail Simmons and Jamika Pessoa.
But the show earned lower ratings than the show it replaced (a season-low HH number of 0.3) as stations were paying the same license fee in cash-plus-barter deals as they were for an already declining Dr. Oz. Reports circulated many station groups – especially Fox (whose My50 ran the show locally weekdays at noon) were grumbling about paying the same fees to carry a even lower-rated replacement show. Sony is now looking to shop Dish to a cable or streaming outlet, but now leaves them with no first-run programs on the air for the first time since 1993, when they began selling Ricki Lake in syndication (Sony does produce Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, but both game shows are syndicated by CBS Media Ventures.)
The three cancellations come as several first-run shows are still on the bubble, including CBS Media Ventures Drew Barrymore; Warner’s The Real; and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos and Maury, though reports have circulated the 84-year-old host is retiring after this current season. Earlier, Debmar-Mercury announced it was replacing Wendy Williams with Sherri Shepard as she is no longer able to do her show.
For the record, the last syndicated show to be pulled after a such short amount of time was in 2004 when Universal Television’s Home Delivery strip lasted only a month before being dropped, but was allowed to finish out the season. In 1987, Lorimar-Telepictures canceled the revival of game show Truth or Consequences after just four weeks. Stations (including CBS-owned WBBM-TV, who ran the show at 6:30 p.m. until the end of 1987), were released from their contracts after 26 weeks.