This was actually reported weeks ago but I was hoping to get an interview with Nancy Grace so I could provide something truly fresh. Unfortunately, she has been so wrapped up in the Casey Anthony case, the CNN publicist hasn’t been able to track her down for me. So this is what I know:
Grace’s freshman syndicated show “Swift Justice With Nancy Grace” will no longer be starring Nancy Grace.
The program, shot this past year in Atlanta at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios in Midtown, will move to Los Angeles and be led by a new host: Jackie Glass, a judge in the Clarke County District Court in Las Vegas. Glass oversaw the 2008 O.J. Simpson case in 2008.
So what happened? The official story is that CBS Television, which produces the show for syndication, wanted to move the show to Los Angeles for financial reasons. A spokesman wrote to me that it’s cheaper to produce the show in Los Angeles than in Atlanta. Grace, who is tied to the East Coast, supposedly couldn’t deal with the distance so she dropped the show. The spin makes it sound like a mutual decision.
But it makes no logical sense. First of all, I’m told it’s seldom cheaper to shoot a show in Los Angeles because Atlanta has better tax incentives. That’s why so many shows are leaving Los Angeles for places like New Orleans, Vancouver and Atlanta. We are now one of the top 5 states in terms of TV production.
And “Swift Justice With Nancy Grace,” which airs locally at 2 p.m. on Fox affiliate WAGA-TV, was by far the most popular new syndicated program of the 2010-11 season. It nearly doubled the second most popular newcomer this past May, “Nate Berkus” with a 1.7 rating vs. 0.9 for Berkus. Among judge shows, Grace’s 1.7 matched “Judge Alex” and beat “Divorce Court” and “Judge Mathis.” (”Judge Judy is by far the most popular judge show with a whopping 6.7 rating in May.) “Swift Justice” ratings actually increased from September to May, by 21 percent, according to Nielsen numbers.
No production company in their right mind would drop a person hosting a show that broke out of the gate so big – unless something else is going on. So what is really going on? I have no idea! I will certainly write something about this if I get any insight.
[UPDATE: June 28, 2011, 5:21 p.m.: Someone reminded me that there is a possible reason why this happened. Patricia Caruso in March sued Grace in the Supreme Court in New York for $15 million over breach of contract. Caruso alleges she and Grace had agreed that Caruso would be the executive producer of the show but last year, when the show was announced, Caruso was not included. This legal complication could be a very logical reason why Grace and CBS parted ways. In fact, GPB was told the show was moving a mere days after the lawsuit was filed and I hear Grace was not pleased. The lawsuit is the likely reason Grace is not exactly jumping to talk about this situation to the media.]
For now, Grace has her night-time job at HLN firmly in hand. Her 25-54 ratings since the Casey Anthony trial began have been regularly eclipsing MSNBC and CNN. She even beat Fox News last Friday when she drew 494,000 25-54 year old viewers vs. 375,000 for Bill O’Reilly on Fox. (He still drew more overall viewers: 1.97 million to 1.69 million.)
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog