tv reporter

No need to deliberate: 'Jury' duo are resolute

Getting the upcoming syndicated show "Jury Duty" to air certainly was a trial for industry newcomers Vincent and Linda Dymon, who are distributing the court strip themselves through their independent company, Radar Entertainment. But it's also a lesson in where perseverance and determination can get you.

Vincent Dymon — a former casino entrepreneur from Chicago with no industry experience or contacts — says it all started 10 years ago, when he wrote an idea for a court show featuring celebrities as jury members. Not knowing what to do with it, he stuffed it in a sock drawer. But in 2002, he met his future wife, Linda, a nurse, and mentioned the idea on their first date. She connected him with a childhood friend in the industry, who advised Vincent to make a pilot. Not realizing that a syndicator would fund the pilot if they bought his pitch, the novice sunk his own money into making it. As it happened, Vincent had a relationship with Bruce Cutler — now serving as the defense attorney for Phil Spector — who agreed to be the judge.

Vincent was relying on his contact in Los Angeles to set up pitch meetings with distributors. But frustrated by the lack of movement, Linda says she told her husband, "There's only one person who is going to sell this show, and that's you."

Still in Chicago, Vincent then contacted every distribution company in the book and got a handful of responses. Some were nice enough to give him advice, telling him he should be showing a two- or 21/2-minute presentation to prospective buyers instead of an entire episode and he should hire sales consultants to help his two-person company with station clearances. (He hired Foster/Tailwind for a while last year; Trifecta Entertainment & Media is handling barter ad sales.) Armed with that knowledge, Vincent set out to self-distribute his show.

As it stands, "Jury Duty" is cleared in more than 75% of the U.S. for its Sept. 17 launch, including the top markets of New York (WPIX), L.A. (KCAL) and Chicago (WCIU), on an all-barter basis. The Dymons also are in talks to sell the format overseas and are seeking a cable partner.

The couple, who relocated to L.A. in September, are the first to admit it hasn't been easy. "There were a lot of tears and frustration and arguments," Linda says. There also is the matter of a lawsuit Vincent filed in November against Warner Bros., alleging that the company stole his idea for a court strip featuring a celebrity jury (that strip didn't go forward).

Moreover, the Dymons, who quit their former jobs, have sunk $1.7 million of their own money into "Jury Duty," and Vincent says they won't see any financial returns until December. "We live off our savings; we dove headfirst into this," he says. "But this business is cyclical, and it's time for the underdogs."

Two foul-mouthed puppets are making their way across the pond Wednesday night for Starz's "The Bronx Bunny Show," a U.K. cult favorite that debuts at 11:45 p.m. EDT/PDT with the first of 10 new episodes as part of the network's first original comedy block. The set-in-L.A. talk show is hosted by a bunny and his panda sidekick, who discuss bowel movements with "germaphobe" Howie Mandel, ask Stacy Keibler about her "ta-tas" and pull a gun on Wink Martindale. And that's just the first episode.

"Puppets can get more out of celebrities than mainstream talk shows because people let their guard down," says Chuck LaBella, an exec producer and co-creator of the show. "And we can keep it no-holds-barred because it's premium cable."