‘Wild Palms’ Has ABC Just a Little Edgy: Six-Part Oliver Stone Series Should Do Well, But Is Causing Anxious Moments

NEW YORK – The six-hour ‘event series’ Wild Palms is causing sweaty palms over…Said a buyer, ‘There’s kind of a tone in the salespeople’s voices that gives you the feeling they’re not in great shape. They say, ‘Why is the programming department doing this?’ ‘ Laughed another buyer, ‘Six hours of Oliver Stone? If I don’t buy it, they’ll say it’s a conspiracy.’Despite the show’s rep as cutting edge, buyers who’ve screened it say there aren’t really many content problems for advertisers. ‘I hope people have seen it before making that (content) decision,’ said Ayer senior vp Aaron Cohen, who called Palms ‘an interesting piece.’But numerous buyers say they ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if advertisers were a bit gun-shy. There’s some violence, and a few satirical religious references. An ABC source counters that the religious satire is handled subtly and suggests buyers are just trying to push prices down by playing up that angle.ABC is asking $175,000 for a Wild Palms unit in the current scatter market, well above the average for a Sunday or Monday movie. Much of the inventory had been presold as part of the 1992-93 upfront, and clients who bought in then paid less than the current scatter price. Buyers report the Sunday premiere is best sold, and things get looser as the ‘event’ progresses. That jibes with projections of a 30 share for Sunday, tailing off into the low 20’s as viewers sample and flee.Yet that would be good for those time periods, and demos will be good. Whatever happens, ABC owns the show. So it will benefit from strong foreign interest and cassette sales.Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)