The Grab Bag: It’s Chicagolicious!

The Grab Bag today includes a revival of a classic game show – with a hip-hop bent; a local time slot change for syndicated reruns of 30 Rock; and Chicago lands another reality TV show:

– Oprah and Rosie are long gone from the Windy City, but believe it or not, television production is expanding in Chicago – of the reality kind. In addition to the recently announced Chicago version of Mob Wives, The Style Network is launching a new Chicago-based reality series called Chicagolicious (I like that name!) Based on the New Jersey version (Jerseylicious), viewers get a peek at the goings on of AJES Salon in the West Loop, owned by hair stylist AJ Johnson. In the show, Johnson looks to expands his business nationwide as his staff of stylists create amazing looks for red-carpet and fashion runway events.  Johnson’s clientele boasts an impressive list of well known people: Angela Bassett, Iman, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, and Valerie Jarrett, among others.

Chicagolicious is produced by Endemol USA and Alex Duda is the executive producer along with Blake Levin. Endemol USA is also producing Steve Harvey’s upcoming syndicated talk show strip this fall at the NBC Tower here in Chicago. Alex Duda is also executive producer of this project. Chicagolicious debuts on June 3 at 8 pm (CT.)

For more information on AJ Johnson’s business and his salon, click here.

– DirecTV viewers probably didn’t notice this programming change WGN-TV made Monday (and no one did either): WGN removed low-rated syndicated repeats of 30 Rock from its 6:30 pm prime access time slot and added an 11:30 pm airing in late fringe (the 10 pm airing remains.) Replacing 30 Rock at 6:30 pm is that old, trusty standby Friends (now in HD!) Friends previously ran at 6 pm on WGN from 1998 to 2006, when it was replaced by According to Jim.

WGN and other Tribune stations recently acquired Warner Bros.’ off-network sitcom The Middle for syndication for 2013 for airing in prime access and late fringe.

– CBS purchased Long Island independent station WLNY back in December 2011 and now has filled a major position: Betty Ellen Berdamino has been named vice president and station manager of the station. She previously was general manager at crosstown rival WPIX-TV. CBS took over the station last week and is adding a 7-9 am and 9pm news shows and finally broadcasting in HD. WLSY’s website ( now redirects to, which is CBS’ portal of all of its media properties in the Big Apple (excluding FM music stations.)

– Two of the biggest actor unions have finally merged: last Friday, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) finalized their, um, union (no pun intended.) The new SAG-AFTRA union now boasts a total of 140,000 members nationwide. While there was some opposition to the merger (a judge refused to block the move), the marriage was approved by a overwhelmingly majority of their members. In Illinois, there are more than 5,000 SAG-AFTRA members.

Hollywood Squares is coming back yet again – but this time with a more urban flavor. MTV 2 has ordered ten episodes of Hip Hop Squares, a new twist on the classic game show with celebrities from the world of hip-hop filling the squares. New York radio personality Peter Rosenberg is host; celebrities filling the squares include Nick Cannon, Biz Markie, Fat Joe, and DJ Khaled.  The new MTV version is scheduled to air once a week on Tuesday nights; it debuts May 22.

The original Hollywood Squares was created by Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley and ran in NBC daytime from 1966 to 1980 (plus a primetime version that ran in 1968) and in first-run syndication from 1971-81, 1986-89, and 1998-2004. Regular occupants of the squares included Paul Lynde, Joan Rivers, Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers, Jim J. Bullock, Shadoe Stevens (who was also an announcer for both syndicated revivals), former Chicago Tribune columnist Bruce Vilanch, and Brad Garrett.

As bad as this possibly sounds, it won’t top the disastrous pairing with The Match Game in 1983-84 to form The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour, the worst game show combo ever. Now seriously, can you imagine Peter Marshall in bling?