IN THE Flite Three Studios out on Cold Spring Lane, Tim Reid and Daphne Maxwell Reid talked to Cathy Rigby yesterday, taping the interview for a show that's essentially doing the same thing as Rigby's production of "Peter Pan" -- taking it on the road hoping for a shot at the big time.
Rigby now knows that after 11 months of playing places like Baltimore's Mechanic Theatre, "Peter Pan" is going to Broadway. But the Reids won't know until sometime next year if "Tim and Daphne" will make television's equivalent -- national syndication.
"Tim and Daphne," a talk show co-hosted by the husband and wife team who worked together as actors in "Snoops," "Frank's Place" and "Simon & Simon," is currently running on Channel 2 (WMAR) weekdays at 11 a.m.
Though it has big national names co-hosting, and pretty big names as guests, that's the only place it's running. Baltimore is the the sole local tryout city for the show.
As a result, after making a couple weeks worth of shows in Los Angeles, "Tim and Daphne" moved its production to town this week. In part, this was because the Reids live fairly nearby in Virginia.
But it is mainly because most successful national talk shows -- "Donahue," "Oprah," "Geraldo," even "Live with Regis and Cathy Lee," started out as successful shows in local markets. Trying to put on a talk show in front of real people day after day is a much better way of judging its worth than making a pilot.
Six shows a week -- two a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- are being taped at Flite Three. The locally-produced hours, whose behind-the-scenes personnel is a mix of talent from Baltimore, Los Angeles and New York, will start airing on Monday.
"Tim and Daphne" is a production of King World, the company that sells local stations some of the most successful programs in syndication, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy."
"We were talking to King World about some other projects when this idea came up," Tim Reid said. "It wasn't my idea, but I looked at it as a challenge. I'm always looking for new challenges."
It was put on what is called the King World R&D Network, a group of stations who have joined King World in trying to come up with new programming ideas. Through its Gillett corporate ownership, Channel 2, which runs many King World programs in Baltimore, is part of that network.
It is conceivable that other stations on the network might pick up the show before its Baltimore production run is finished in the first week of December -- enough shows will be made to keep it on the air until Dec. 21 -- but essentially the idea is to get some shows on tape and some ratings on paper so that King World can decide whether or not to take it to the February convention of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE), the supermarket for selling syndicated programming to local stations.
In the meantime, the bad news is that the Baltimoreans in the studio audience aren't getting their faces aired coast-to-coast like those who show up for "Donahue" or "Oprah." But the good news is that, for a couple of months, Baltimore has a very expensive, very highly produced local talk show.
And, since local talks shows are a disappearing breed, enjoy it while it lasts.