Rachael Ray returns to WGN; “Mom” gets the shaft in top markets
(Editor’s Note: Hurricane Irma coverage may impact the debut of shows in some areas.)
The 2017-18 television season doesn’t begin until September 25, but outside of primetime, new programming and schedule changes are occurring as soon as Monday.
The biggest news is the debut of Steve Harvey’s new revamped show Steve; and Twentieth Century Fox Distribution’s new first-run strips, Page Six TV and Top 30.
Here’s a guide to look to in syndication for 2017-18 in Chicago. All shows begin this Monday, September 11 unless otherwise noted:
Unlike in recent years, there are more than five new series debuting in syndication – and that’s includes Steve Harvey’s new Los Angeles-based celebrity-driven show Steve, which debuted Sept. 5, replacing his old Chicago-based talk show. Based on the opening episode, Steve is reminiscent of David Letterman’s old daytime show, with celebrity interviews, Stupid Human/Pet tricks, and all. The musical guest was James Arthur, but he performed at CityLine at Universal instead of inside the studio and it was kind of oft-putting.
Steve keeps his 2 p.m. position on NBC-owned WMAQ and other NBC O&Os despite the format change, but does have some rough time slots, notably KARE in Minneapolis at 3 a.m.
Also new in talk is PPI Releasing’s (formerly Program Partners) Cityline, a Canadian import hosted by Tracy Moore at noon on independent WCIU. If you look closely, the first four letters of the show’s logo resembles those of CityTV, a groundbreaking Toronto independent station responsible for innovative fare such as Breakfast Television and Fashion Television. A staple of CityTV’s lineup in Toronto since 1984, Cityline airs on Rogers Media’s City-branded stations in numerous Canadian markets.
Turning to the entertainment news category, there are a bunch of entries this season: Twentieth is premiering Page Six TV nationwide, with WPWR airing it at 11:30 a.m. and WFLD at 2 p.m. every weekday starting Sept. 18. Page Six TV as you recall, was tested on several Fox-owned stations in 2016 and is based on the famous Page Six column in the New York Post. Twentieth’s other new first run strip (Top 30), is a more straightforward news program (think of a faster-paced Inside Edition) gets a midnight slot on WPWR – not exactly a vote of confidence.
Meanwhile, CBS Television Distribution launches Daily Mail TV, based on the British tabloid and produced by Stage 29 Productions, the outfit run by Jay McGraw, who is Dr. Phil McGraw son (Dr. Phil shoots on Stage 29 at Paramount, an arrangement dating back to the days when CBS was part of the studio’s corporate parent Viacom.) Tribune’s WGN-TV plans to air Daily Mail at 2 p.m. weekdays starting Sept. 18, but in Los Angeles, Tribune’s KTLA has it slotted at 3:30 a.m.
The only new court show to premiere this fall is MGM/Orion’s Couples Court With the Cutlers (WCIU, 9:30 a.m), and it starts Sept. 18.
In off-network sitcom syndication, Sony Television’s Goldbergs is breakdancing its way onto WGN at 10:30 and 11 p.m. weeknights, while in a surprise late entry, former CW/BET sitcom The Game takes over the 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. slots on WCIU. In an odd bit of timing, the CBS-distributed series about a fictional San Diego pro football team comes to syndication as the city’s real NFL team went up the coast to Los Angeles (in case you’re wondering, San Diego’s KFMB has The Game slotted at 3 and 3:30 a.m on its digital CW subchannel.)
And what has to be an unprecedented scheduling move for a major off-network sitcom, Warner Bros. Mom was sent to a pair of overnight slots in the nation’s biggest markets: 3 a.m. on New York’s WPIX and 2 a.m. on KTLA in Los Angeles, beginning Sept. 18 – or more accurately, Sept. 19. Mom fared slightly better here in Chicago with WGN slotted it at 12:30 a.m., but behind a double-run of the tired Friends.
For reality TV fans (or more appropriately, real docu-crime fans), new series coming into syndication include Bellum Entertainment’s Mysteries of The Unexplained (3 p.m., The U Too) and Killer Mysteries (3:30 p.m., The U Too), each debuted Sept. 4. Also debuting as a weekend series on Sept. 16 is The Sheriffs of El Dorado County (The U Too, Saturdays 6 and 6:30 p.m.) Reruns of Dateline NBC (as Dateline) premiere Sept. 25, but a local station clearance had not been announced at press time.
More light-hearted fare comes in the form of off-TruTV episodes of Impractical Jokers via Trifecta Entertainment (7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. over The U Too) and a new weekly series called Don’t Blink (U Too, Sundays 6 and 6:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 17.)
And WCIU adds Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask at 11:30 p.m., a viable substitute for the canceled Celebrity Name Game.
New faces, new slots (or places)
After being dropped by WGN in 2014 for Celebrity Name Game, Rachael Ray shifted to 1 p.m. on WLS-TV as part of an ABC O&O deal to replace Katie Couric’s failed talk show. However, her show disappointed in the ratings and was shifted to 1:40 a.m. in 2015 to accommodate Windy City Live, and back to 1 p.m. last year – but on the low-profile U Too. Now, Rachael Ray returns to WGN in her old 10 a.m. time slot to replace the canceled game show in a measure of revenge against the now-defunct Craig Ferguson vehicle.
Ray is also getting a new station in Los Angeles as Fox’s KCOP takes over from CBS-owned KCAL, airing at 2 p.m. Other new stations carrying Ray include Fox’s KTXH in Houston and Atlanta’s Peachtree TV, among others. In addition, Ray is getting a new set, including a brand-new kitchen designed by HGTV’s Cousins. (Rachael Ray premiered the same day this blog started in 2006.)
Meanwhile Harry is heading into its second season with some good news: the series is no longer competing with Steve Harvey at 2 p.m. as the New York-based series slide back to 1 p.m. on WPWR. Both Steve and Harry are syndicated by NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.
What’s New (but not seen)
More and more, station groups who do not have a presence in the top three markets of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, are producing their own shows – airing in multiple mid-size markets across the country. Two such shows – Daily Buzz Live and new weekly Sing Like A Star are airing only on Tegna-owned stations, meaning viewers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia are shut out (maybe that’s a good thing.) There are no plans to take either show out nationally at this time.
One Tegna show (Sister Circle) is being shown nationally via TVOne, so local viewers aren’t entirely shut out. The premiere has been delayed to Sept. 18 due to Hurricane Irma as the show is shot in Atlanta and could be impacted by the storm.
Outside of Name Game and The Insider, there isn’t much turnover in syndication this year- only other programs exiting are Hot In Cleveland and The Middle due to expiring contracts. Also out is weekly viral-video series What Went Down after three seasons. The series aired its final episode last month.
Twentieth is also bringing back the original Cops to syndication replacing Cops Reloaded, but no Chicago station has picked it up as of presstime – not even co-owned WFLD and WPWR, who share a corporate parent in 21st Century Fox.