FishbowlDC has obtained an internal NPR memo, which reveals that “NPR has reached an agreement with CBS Entertainment to create a television pilot based on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”
After the jump…
To: NPR Staff
From: Margaret Low Smith, Vice President for Programming
Re: NPR and CBS Entertainment to Produce Television Pilot Based on “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”
Date: September 4, 2008
I’m delighted to share some exciting news. NPR has reached an agreement with CBS Entertainment to create a television pilot based on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!. This agreement recognizes what we and nearly 2.7 million weekly listeners to 450 stations already know: Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is a gem. It is also a testament to the work of the spectacular Wait Wait team.
The Wait Wait audience has grown in every ratings period since its launch in 1998. As a result of its popularity, over the years the program has drawn the attention of numerous television producers eager to bring Wait Waitâ€¦ Donâ€™t Tell Me! to TV. What distinguished CBS from the other suitors was a deep affection for Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, a desire to preserve the integrity and the smarts of the show, and importantly, the network was poised to invest significant resources to make it happen.
The potential exposure for Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and public radio is enormous. The television program will include a screen credit calling out the radio show as heard on public radio stations nationwide. The arrangement also presents a potential source of revenue for NPR.
The agreement with CBS anticipates, first, the production of a television pilot. Host Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell, the showâ€™s official judge and scorekeeper, will perform those roles in the pilot. Wait Wait creator and executive producer Doug Berman, who is also the creator of Car Talk, will serve as an executive producer of the television pilot. Doug will be working with a tremendous television production team. After the pilot is finished, CBS will determine whether it will commission NPR to produce a television series based on Wait Waitâ€¦ Donâ€™t Tell Me!. NPR is not financing the television production, and the pilot and any subsequent episodes will be produced independently from the radio show.
From the very beginning of our discussions with CBS, we have been guided by the principle “first, do no harm.” We know that, above all else, we must protect the Wait Wait… Donâ€™t Tell Me! brand, the radio show as we know and love it, and the important relationship between the show and Member stations. We are confident that our agreement with CBS will provide those protections and benefit Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, NPR and public radio.