'08 syndie scramble is on

More games, talkers, court shows bandied about

Syndication development is gearing up for fall 2008 as the major distributors look to find their next first-run hit.

Buena Vista Prods. is in the early stages of development on a bowling-centric game show and a psychic-driven talk show, sources said. The tentatively titled "Up Your Alley" is said to be a game show from Picture This TV that revolves around bowling and celebrities. The talker, being called "Past, Present and Future," is a project from Flame TV that features multiple psychics.

Sources said Warner Bros.-based Telepictures Prods. is discussing a possible project that would feature Jeanine Pirro, former district attorney for New York's Westchester County. Pirro was tapped this year to preside over Telepictures' celebrity-jury show that didn't go forward.

Indeed, there still seems to be interest in court shows, with Sony Pictures Television launching "Judge David Young" in the fall and nine others on the air. Sources said another judge, Mary Beth Bonaventura from the MTV series "Juvies," is meeting with distributors for a potential court show.

Sources said a dating show project called "Brutally Honest Personals," long in the works, may still have life at CBS Television Distribution. The project is believed to originate from the Esquire magazine feature in which single people looking for love give candid descriptions of themselves.

Rachael Ray, who is said to be a fan of the magazine's feature, has included a segment dubbed "Brutally Honest Dating" in her talk show, which also is from CBS TV Distribution.

Talk is still circulating that "The View" co-host Rosie O'Donnell might be looking to return to a solo gig hosting her own talk show, possibly at Telepictures — where her previous talker was produced — though her contract with ABC reportedly mandates that she must negotiate with the Walt Disney Co. before doing so. Actress-comedian-author Jackie Guerra also has thrown her hat in the ring as a possible host of her own daytime talker, holding meetings around town (HR 2/8).

Meanwhile, a syndicated version of NBC's game show "Deal or No Deal" is alive at NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, according to sources.

Industry insiders said that Twentieth Television is working on a development slate than spans multiple genres, including game, talk and court. That seems to be the consensus with the major syndicators, including others like SPT, but all of the companies declined comment Thursday on their development slates.
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