'Judy' verdict: 2 years Sheindlin stays behind bench

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Court show queen Judge Judy Sheindlin has inked a new multiyear deal with CBS Television Distribution to continue with her strip, "Judge Judy," and the CBS Television Stations group has renewed the top-rated court show for another two seasons, taking it through 2012.

" 'Judge Judy' is the unsung hero of syndication, consistently delivering fantastic ratings to our station partners, and we're really proud it's the only syndicated show growing year to year," CTD president and COO John Nogawski said.

The "Judge Judy" renewal was among a flurry of NATPE-related announcements made Monday:

Program Partners' "Crosswords" is a "firm go" for Season 2 after having been renewed in 40 of the top 50 markets. The distributor has secured commitments from WNBC New York and other NBC O&Os as well as stations owned by Belo, Four Points, Gannett, Gray and McGraw-Hill, among others.

"This renewal is a testament to our amazing production team and to the power of Merv Griffin's original vision," Program Partners' Ritch Colbert said.

A clearance announcement on the company's court show "Family Court With Judge Penny" also is said to be imminent.

ION Media Networks acquired rights to "Baywatch" from Litton Entertainment. ION Television is set to launch "Baywatch" on March 3, with the David Hasselhoff starrer airing at 10 p.m. EST Monday-Thursday.

"This is another fun example of our strategy to offer upbeat, mainstream programming to our viewers," ION chairman and CEO Brandon Burgess said.

Twentieth has cleared the off-Fox forensic drama "Bones" in 45% of the country, including all top 10 markets, for its fall 2009 debut in broadcast syndication.

Twentieth president and COO Bob Cook said the show has been cleared on a number of stations, including Fox's WNYW/WWOR New York, KTTV/KCOP Los Angeles, WFLD/WPWR Chicago and WTXF Philadelphia.

The Bennett Group is launching the MEN7 network, touted as the first multiplatform lifestyle and entertainment net targeting affluent males in the 25-54 demo.

Upon its launch in April, MEN7 will encompass a weekly flagship high-definition TV series; broadband site MEN7.tv; and daily episodes as well as segments syndicated out to several broadband, IPTV and mobile distribution partners including YouTube, Joost, Veoh and Amazon.

The company said it is in negotiations with two cable channels for the flagship series, "The MEN7 Show," hosted by Tava Smiley and Hoyt Christopher, which will be showcased on the NATPE floor.

MEN7.tv, which also launches in April, will be the home to 10 high-definition series, including National Lampoon's "The Great American Run," "The Extremists" and "Beyond the List."

In other NATPE news, the seventh annual Brandon Tartikoff Awards were presented Monday night to WMA's Mark Itkin, CBS Paramount' Nancy Tellem, Warner Bros. TV's Peter Roth and former NBC Uni chairman Bob Wright.

In his remarks, Wright said broadcasting TV is at "a crossroads."

"We need enthusiasm and optimism in the face of industry adversity," he said.

Because of viewers' interest in mobility and portability, the TV business is going through "a difficult transition, but since the fundamentals haven't changed, there's no reason the industry can't succeed," Wright said.

Elizabeth Guider contributed to this report.
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