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Last summer the Fox TV Station Group did a six-week test run of a talk show starring Kris Jenner, the “momager” of the Kardashian clan. Months of silence followed before it became clear that Kris would not move forward.
On Thursday, in a discussion with The Hollywood Reporter about three new shows Fox will test this summer, Frank Cicha, senior vp and president of programming for the Fox Television Stations, admitted he knew by the time the test ended that Kris wasn’t going to work. “I think she was pretty uninteresting [on camera],” Cicha said. “That was one where [sister company] 20th Television tried to capitalize on a name. … When the camera was on she looked not just like a deer in the headlights, but like a deer that already got hit.”
Cicha praised Jenner for working hard, never being a diva and doing all the press and publicity she could for the show. He also said as the weeks went on she did get a little better on the air. However, until the very end when she brought Kanye West on the show with baby pictures, the ratings were sub-par. In some markets Cicha says they got hate mail about Kris.
“It wasn’t a disaster in the ratings,” said Cicha, adding that it would have been an expensive show to produce and wasn’t a good fit for the rest of his station group’s schedule. “When you added it up, it wasn’t a show that made sense for us.”
He feels a lot worse about what happened to Bethenny Frankel’s talk show, which was successful on the Fox stations first in a summer test where it drew strong ratings and interest, and then when it went on the air last fall. “If we had our druthers, Bethenny would have come back,” said Cicha. “But even though it worked for us, we couldn’t keep it on the air.”
Cicha has higher hopes for The Real, which got a four-week test run on Fox stations last summer, and is being launched into national syndication this fall by Warner Bros. – including on Fox stations: “The Bethenny test numbers were gigantic, but a year later nobody cared. I think this is different.”
Cicha praised the careful casting of the ladies on The Real, a show that has been characterized as a younger-skewing more diverse version of The View. “I’d bet on this one because of the work that went into the casting,” said Cicha. “Diversity is a positive especially in our markets. They also got a cable presence that will help sustain it from an economic standpoint.”
The Real is hosted by Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley. It will air beginning in September on the BET cable network as well as in national syndication. “I think it has a shot,” added Cicha.
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