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Tribune Entertainment/Peter Engel Prod uctions/NBC Enterprises (syndication): Malibu, CA

This new weekly, half-hour teen comedy capitalizes on the filming location of Malibu to portray an offbeat family consisting of a formerly bachelor father who is joined by his twin teen sons when their mother takes a job overseas. The brothers...
September 1, 1998

This new weekly, half-hour teen comedy capitalizes on the filming location of Malibu to portray an offbeat family consisting of a formerly bachelor father who is joined by his twin teen sons when their mother takes a job overseas. The brothers attend West Malibu High, where they enter a circle of young, beautiful California natives and become involved in local matters, from environmentalism to surfing.

Twenty-six episodes of Malibu, CA have been produced-twice the number that is normally ordered by NBC for their TNBC shows, which, like Malibu, CA, are created by executive producer Peter Engel. The series is a joint venture between Tribune Entertainment Company and Peter Engel Productions in association with NBC Enterprises. Tribune holds domestic syndication rights, while NBC retains foreign distribution and worldwide ancillary rights. Malibu, CA will debut in national syndication the week of October 5, airing at varying times in different markets, largely on Saturday mornings or Saturday afternoons, and primarily on the WB network, according to Dick Askin, president and chief executive officer of Tribune Entertainment.

‘Malibu, California, itself is a character in the show,’ says executive producer Peter Engel. He notes that in comparison with the other TNBC shows he has created, including Hang Time and Saved by the Bell, this syndicated series will offer much more music and filmed, scenic exteriors, all in an effort to highlight the Malibu lifestyle. Carl Kurlander (co-creator of St. Elmo’s Fire) was the co-executive producer on the show, which is the first collaboration between Engel’s company and Tribune Entertainment.

‘We’ve been very interested in working with Peter Engel for a long time, since the stations [we sell to] started airing Saved by the Bell,’ notes Askin. ‘We really sparked to Malibu, CA. We felt that the Malibu, California, beach setting filled a void with regard to the [former shows Engel] had done.’ The target age of the show, 12 to 24, is slightly older than the TNBC block, and producers are dubbing it a ‘young adult’ product. For instance, the character of the father in Malibu, CA has a romantic interest in one of his sons’ teachers. There are more significant roles for adults, the cast is two to three years older, and the characters are slightly more sophisticated in terms of their humor and references than on Engel’s TNBC shows.

The series has cleared 88% of the country, and is scheduled to air in 150 markets. Promotion of the series will be handled primarily by the stations, says Askin, although co-op ad dollars will be available through Tribune for radio and other media buys in the top 25 markets. ‘We really rely on the stations to promote [their own lineups],’ he notes, adding that stations were eager to receive the first Peter Engel product that’s been available exclusively for syndication.

On-air promos featuring footage from the show were created by Engel, who also plans to make the cast available for on-site promotions wherever possible. ‘It’s a different arena for us to be in syndication as opposed to cable [Engel's USA High airs on USA Network],’ notes Engel. ‘However, a lot of our shows are in reruns in syndication.’ Engel notes that the long-term plan is to run Malibu, CA with the Engel-produced City Guys as a Monday through Friday strip in syndication. VR

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