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Your Time Is Up, My Time Is Now
December 14

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We start this week with another sign that the new game show renaissance is upon us. The long rumored cancellation of "As The World Turns" was officially announced this week by CBS. The final episode will air in September of 2010, ending it's 54 year run. According to Lynn Leahey, editorial director of Soap Opera Digest, the move does not come as a surprise for daytime industry observers. "Still, it's a punch in the gut for fans," she said in the Los Angeles Times. "This is a show they've been holding near and dear for decades."

What does this announcement mean for game show fans? This announcement is the third in recent weeks that bode well for us. We had the bombshell that Oprah Winfrey will be stopping production her talk show in 2011, and that the Bonnie Hunt talk show is leaving the air after this season.

That is 3 hours of programming that HAS to be filled. In the short term rumors are flying that Sony/Michael Davies's "The $1,000,000 Pyramid" is back from the dead. "The Dating Game" and "Press Your Luck" are names that are being bandied about.

The recent revival of "Let's Make A Deal" has shown that a solid game show can work in daytime and gain an audience. I don’t think court or talk shows will be the answer, as evidenced by Judge Judy being the only show in the top 25 of syndicated shows. According to, other soap operas have similar ratings as ATWT. Look at the chart here from the week of November 23-27:

1. Y&R 4,908,000
2. B&B 3,200,000
3. DAYS 3,100,000
4. GH 2,667,000
5. AMC 2,618,000
6. OLTL 2,461,000
7. ATWT 2,416,000

Soap operas as a genre are in deep trouble. All My Children is moving to Los Angeles to save $10M in production costs, according to the same Los Angeles Times article I quoted earlier. One Life to Live is rumored to be in trouble as well.

The answer in my opinion HAS to be game shows and we will see even more of them over the next two years in both syndicated and on networks. While I feel sorry for the long time fans of these shows, game shows have been shown to be profitable and cheaper to produce than soaps. The bottom line is, game shows are coming back in a big way over the next two years. Count on it.

What we also counted on was an exciting finish to this season of the Amazing Race. And we did get it as Megan and Cheyne kept it together to cross the finish line at Casa de Shenandoah (a/k/a Wayne Newton's House) and win the $1,000,000 prize. Sam and Dan finished 2nd and Brian and Ericka finished 3rd. The teams went from Prague to Las Vegas where the final challenges included rappelling down the side of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, bungeeing to retrieve a bouquet of flowers from the stage of "Love" at the Mirage, counting $1,000,000 in poker chips, and meeting Mr. Las Vegas himself.

The challenges in the final leg had the right balance of physical and mental. I would have liked to have seen the final leg memory challenge, but the poker chip counting challenge was a very nice and appropriate touch for the last city.

Megan and Cheyne deserved to win this. The other two teams had mental breakdowns at different stops along the way, while Megan and Cheyne kept it together enough to win this. They won 7 legs on this trip, and dominated this race.

This season was another high quality adventure, and the 16th Race coming up in February should be no exception. I can't wait.

The first bomb of 2010 has already been announced. On January 4th, ABC will debut a special called "Conveyor Belt of Love". And yes, it's produced by Endemol which brought us Dating in the Dark.

The concept: 5 women gets a look at 30 guys as the pass by on a conveyor belt. They are given 60 seconds to impress them. If a woman is interested in someone, that man will step aside and wait as the rest of the men go by. But if another man comes by on the belt who seems better than that woman's first choice, she can swap out the man waiting off of the belt as many times as she wants until the last man has passed by. If two or more of the women are interested in the same man, the tables turn and the man on the conveyor belt gets to choose which one he would like to wait for. After all 30 men have made it through the "Conveyor Belt of Love," each woman is left with her final choice as she embarks on a date in the hope of finding a true connection. Will these five women be happy with their choices?

They should have called this "Sushi Platter Conveyor Belt of Love." This is terrible.

We are seeing signs that both major entertainment unions may repeat a mistake which led to the 2007 writer's strike. Variety reports that The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists are facing a looming deadline within the next few months if they're going to negotiate together on the primetime-feature contract with the majors.

The performers unions haven't yet taken any formal steps toward joint bargaining, even with SAG obligated to begin seven weeks of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers on Oct. 1. The current SAG and AFTRA master contracts -- negotiated separately for the first time in three decades -- both expire on June 30, 2011.

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon has held informal discussions recently with SAG president Ken Howard about the issue. She admitted that a decision by AFTRA will probably be made before the end of the first quarter, given that both unions require several months for a "wages and working conditions" process of meetings with members to hammer out contract proposals prior to the start of bargaining.

"We've had a lot of internal discussion about joint negotiations but we haven't formalized anything," she told Daily Variety. "We would do it if it were something that's to the advantage of all our members."

SAG declined to comment on Reardon's statements.

Reardon noted that AFTRA's also facing looming expirations on two of its other major contracts -- sound recordings, which expires June 30; and network code, which ends on Nov. 15. The AFTRA netcode pact covers about $400 million in annual earnings from dramatic programs in syndication or outside primetime, daytime serial dramas, gameshows, talkshows, variety and musical programs, news, sports, reality shows and promotional announcements.

It is going to be very interesting to see if they do negotiate together. They SHOULD do it together they need to negotiate from a position of strength.

Block Party Quick Hits:

--ABC has ordered a U.S. version of “What? Where? When?” the No. 1 Russian game show that next year will mark its 35th anniversary. Merv Griffin Entertainment is producing the project, tentatively titled “The Six,” after the number of contestants on the show.

--On Jan 28th, America's Best Dance Crew and Taking the Stage will return to MTV.

--History Channel will have "Top Shot" blow on to the airwaves in 2010. This is a 10 episode competition challenge where contestants will compete in historical shooting competitions like sniper shooting or Wild West Shootouts.

--Project Runway will debut on the Wii in March.

--Jeopardy clues filmed in the Galapagos Islands debut this week. They were filmed during the trip where 25 Jeopardy contest winners flew with Alex to the remote location.

--Ellen DeGeneres will debut as an American Idol judge during Hollywood Week.

--Wheel of Fortune will return to Swedish Airwaves in January.

--The Top Chef finale, where Michael Voltaggio beat his brother Bryan, had virtual viewing parties online on December 9th.

--January 7 is the date where Bob Eubanks hosts the Newlywed Game.

--Adam Lambert will play the finale of "SYTYCD" on December 15th.

--Mark Burnett will produce Design Star for HGTV.

Jason Block's time is up, but your time is now. E-mail him at