Katz has right prescription

Positive reviews come pre-NATPE

A week before NATPE's annual Conference & Exhibition kicks off in Las Vegas, station-rep firm Katz Television Group has given the thumbs up to talkers "The Bonnie Hunt Show" and "The Doctors," the game shows "Deal or No Deal" and "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays" as well as the gaveler "Judge Karen."

The Katz programming department's recommendations are determined by market forces and industry trends and based on potential scheduling within each category. The recommendations, which include first-run and off-net shows, are intended to help Katz's 350 client stations make their programming selections, vp and director of programming Bill Carroll said.

Warner Bros.' "Bonnie Hunt" and CBS Television Distribution's "The Doctors" -- which, like the other shows recommended by Katz, already have been widely cleared for their fall launches -- received positive reviews from Katz senior programming/director of programming Greg Conklin.

"(Hunt's) background and skills make her a perfect fit for a daytime talk show," Conklin said, adding that "the show could be a long-term player, especially if she is paired with" Warners' "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

As for "Doctors," Conklin is recommending the show for daytime and early fringe, particularly before 4 p.m. because there are no restrictions on when it can air.

Conklin, however, did issue a note of caution about the two shows. "We are concerned about the major-market clearances for 'The Bonnie Hunt Show' and 'The Doctors' given the rating challenges faced by new shows in very competitive time periods," he said. "We urge you to keep a close eye on these developments."

In the game show arena, Katz director of program research Lisa Hollaender recommended the Howie Mandel-hosted "Deal or No Deal" for daytime or early fringe, even though NBC Universal is targeting early evening time slots. She did note some concerns about the show's modified format, which more closely resembles that of the international editions rather than NBC's primetime version.

Another game show, Debmar-Mercury and Hasbro's "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays," the pilot of which was hosted by Mark L. Walberg, also got a thumbs up from Hollaender, who noted the interactive component whereby viewers submit questions via local station's Internet sites.

"This twist in format creates a synergy between the live studio audience, the viewers at home and local station Web sites," Hollaender said, adding that "Debmar is seeking double runs, and it is more likely that 'Trivial Pursuit' will end up in daytime and some early fringe situations replacing a second run of a game or in a game block. Under those circumstances, 'Trivial Pursuit' is recommended."

Of the court shows being offered for fall, Sony Pictures TV's "Judge Karen" got the backing of Jim Curtin, senior programmer/director of programming at Katz, who noted that court shows continue to be solid performers. "Judge Karen," being offered for cash plus barter, "offers the best opportunity for stations" looking for a new court show for the 2008-09 season.