“True Crime News”, Jaleel White game show set to premiere in fall

Fox, CBS stations commit to new projects, respectively

While Ken Jeong’s talk show project couldn’t get off the ground, two others did on Monday, scoring much-needed station group anchor deals.

Warner Bros. Television Group announced Monday a new hour-long strip called True Crime News, hosted by ABC News’ 20/20 contributor Ana Garcia, who also hosts a podcast called True Crime Daily. The series was pre-sold to several Fox-owned stations, owners of Fox 32 (WFLD) and My50 (WPWR) Chicago here, who’ll likely air the show. True Crime plans to deliver 52 weeks of new episodes, including breaking crime news, and updates on evolving crime stories, with Warner’s vault at their disposal.

“Audiences continue to be fascinated by true crime stories, mysteries, and investigations, and the talented team at Telepictures has developed a distinctive series that is sure to captivate”, said Warner Bros. TV Group President Channing Dungey. “We’re thrilled to have Emmy winner and expert crime reporter Ana Garcia as host, and we can’t wait for viewers to see ‘True Crime News’ this fall.”

While not heeded as such, True Crime News resembles the previous Warner Bros. strip CrimeWatch Daily, a similar hour-long program running in syndication from 2015-18 with Tribune-owned stations as its anchor including WGN-TV here. The series underwent several format changes and was canceled after Tribune stations -who at the time were on the sales block, dropped the show. Like its related predecessor in its first format, True Crime is designed for news lead-ins, with stations expected to make contributions.

True-crime programming continues to draw audiences on numerous platforms, a genre this space looked at in 2017. Despite a drop in homicides nationwide, crime is still the number one issue with voters as anyone in Chicago can tell you. This announcement comes on the same day Fox is rebooting America’s Most Wanted for a third time, with John Walsh returning as host. The original led the way in establishing the original “reality TV” genre in the late 1980s, along with Cops.

True Crime also reaffirms Warner Bros.’s commitment to syndication, as the list dwindled to just two shows this season with The Jennifer Hudson Show and Extra remaining. Fox renewed Jennifer two weeks ago and Extra on Monday. 

Meanwhile, CBS Media Ventures announced new game show The Flip Side with Family Matters‘ Jaleel White as host. 

Here, two teams of players are pitted against each other on how two groups of people feel about the same issue. Teams then pick from multiple-choice answers and whoever predicts human behavior better wins a lot of money (or whatever the budget allows.)

“Game shows have been a bright spot in syndication — and network primetime — the last few years,” said Wendy McMahon, who is head of CBS News And Stations and CBS Media Ventures. “Their loyal viewers tune in more times per week than any other genre. We are excited to bring a fun concept, combined with the exceptional comedic skills of host Jaleel White, to the marketplace with The Flip Side. It’s a perfect addition to any station’s lineup with the flexibility to play in multiple time periods or a game show block.”

Flip Side was sold to CBS-owned stations (mostly their independents), although it’s unlikely CBS 2 (WBBM-TV) here would air the show as there’s no room on the station’s schedule but could wind up on My50 as it already airs an afternoon game show block and already airs CBS Media’s off-network 48 Hours strip, one of the true-crime series benefiting from increased audience interest in the subject.

Known as Steve Urkel, White played the goofy character for nine seasons between 1989 and 1998, with eight of those on ABC’s popular TGIF lineup. In 1997, CBS spent $40 million to lure Matters and Step By Step to their new competing sitcom block against TGIF, only to last all of four months with Family Matters returning to burn off existing episodes in the summer of 1998. For some strange reason, a Christmas movie was made in 2022 with the title but no connection to the TV show and only brief cameos from two of the series’ stars – none of whom were by White.


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