Craig Ferguson returns to daily television with syndicated “Channel Surf”

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)

New project announced same day “Drew” gets fourth-season pickup

Craig Ferguson is slated to host Channel Surf, a new daily late-night half-hour series in syndication scheduled to debut this September from Sony Pictures Television. In the show, a panel led by Ferguson reviews TV’s most shocking, surprising, and hilarious moments – or something like that.

The new project is a return on several fronts. It marks Craig Ferguson’s return to daily television for the first time since Celebrity Name Game went off the air in 2017, though he has hosted ABC’s The Hustler and History Channel’s Join or Die since. It also marks a return to first-run syndication for Sony since the ill-fated Good Dish, a Dr. Oz replacement canceled after only two months on the air.

Moreover, it marks the first late-night syndicated project to launch since the failed Arsenio Hall revival during the 2013-14 season. Since then, late-night programming for most stations not affiliated with the Big 3 networks mostly consisted of off-network reruns and encore presentations of first-run shows that aired earlier in the day. This is in vast contrast to the 1990s when Arsenio’s original show aired, then a large number of dating shows targeted to young viewers arrived on the scene, led by Blind Date. Surf comes as late-night is once again going under an upheaval with several big-name departures taking place in the last two years, including Conan O’Brien, Trevor Noah, and from Ferguson’s old The Late Late Show, James Corden.

“With a shortage of sitcoms available for stations, viewers need a place to laugh,” said Zack Hernandez, who is Sony Pictures Television’s senior VP, of domestic syndication sales. “Channel Surf is that perfect show. Craig is an extraordinary talent who has excelled in late night, daytime and primetime and has incredibly high awareness. Viewers know and love him.”

Channel Surf does bear resemblance to former E! stalwart Talk Soup, a popular late-night show from the 1990s recapping the madness of what aired earlier in the day on numerous syndicated daytime talk shows. A similar syndicated series, 2015’s Crazy Talk from NBCUniversal, lasted less than a season.

Surf is expected to focus on clips from a wide variety of genres, not just talk and reality shows.

“I wanted to do Channel Surf because I think television is ready for the return of the silly/funny/occasional lip-synching puppet format,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Also, it’s a TV show which contains clips of questionable moments from other TV shows, thus creating a spectacular visual turducken of stupid.”

While targeted for late-night, Surf could play in other time periods. Sony is meeting with buyers this week in Los Angeles in order to pitch the show. With time periods tight this year, only four new projects have been announced thus far: Debmar-Mercury’s People Puzzler; PPI Releasing Michaela!; and a new court show featuring Eboni K. Williams from Allen Media. Earlier Tuesday, CBS Media Ventures announced the fourth-season renewal of The Drew Barrymore Show, after showing ratings growth in its third season as her daytime talk show were split into two separate half-hours.


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