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L.A. screenings buyers assess new TV season: violence, comedies, black casts.

There are two TV-buying worlds out there at the Los Angeles Screenings: Latin Americans and Europeans, with all the rest tossed among the large European contingent.

Santa Monica Boulevard separates the two sides, with the Latin buyers camping at the Century Plaza Hotel and the Europeans at the Westwood Marquis Hotel.

Americans are in between, with companies such as ITC setting up shop at both hotels.

In addition to paying homage to the studios and mini-majors, buyers from 40 countries scattered among 15 hotels throughout Los Angeles, also drive in pilgrimages to some of the 40 independent distributors.

This year number of some 400 buyers went. Hollywood to screen 70 new-season, mid-season and summer run series for the 1992-93 U.S. TV season, for the networks, cable and syndication.

The early-bird Canadians - on the whole - liked what they saw.

Most of them were pleased with what the fall season had to offer and welcomed the large number of comedies, which may not always play well abroad, but hit the spot with Canadians, whose entertainment tastes are close to those of American audiences.

The truncated list of screenings also found Canadian approval. "Previously, there was too much to wade through," said Lorne Freed of CFPL. "Now we get to pick from the best of the crop. I like the way they have streamlined it. This way we don't have to wade through all those pilots which will never get on the air."

The Canadians generally had no comment on the fact that the networks had drastically limited the number of episodes they had ordered.

"I don't blame them for wanting to reduce the risk," said one.

The Canadians also saw the mid-season replacement which, in many cases, will serve as on-air tests for various programs.

Most often mentioned by the Canadian buyers were two CBS programs - Picket Fences and Love and War.

"Those two programs were outstanding for me," said Leslie Sole of Global. "By and large, we liked what we saw. I think that, selectively, this is going to be a good year when it comes to American shows. I certainly saw what I felt were some shining notes. Also, I think the writing this year is better than last year, and - as for comedy - we welcomed it. We thrive on it at our station."

Freed, who felt that this year's shows were every bits as good - if not better - than last year's, said he was amazed at the amount of sexual content he saw in the new program. "It doesn't particularly bother us." he commented. "What does bother us is the extraordinary amount of extreme violence in some shows."

Doug Gale of CBCH didn't think that any one show stood out. "I think it's going to be very balanced season," he said.

Roy Gardner of BCTV saw a good year in the offing. "What was just good last year is in fact better this year. My impression is that we are getting a large percentage of attractive programs."

Don Smith, also of BCTV, picked Rhythm and Blues and Picket Fences as his top choices. He, too, felt that this should be a good season and he expressed pleasure over the abundance of comedy.

Different comments came from Latin American and European buyers.

According to Reteitalia's Guido Pugnetti, "there isn't anything extraordinary." Plus, he commented on the large number of shows with all-black casts, which are "untranslatable."

To Cintelba's Marcelo Bandiera, who buys for Argentina and other Latin American territories, "nothing spectacular came across. Not too many programs I've seen so far are good for Latin American," he said.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Video Age International
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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