America (U.S. TV series)
|Narrated by||Charlie O'Donnell|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Paramount Domestic Television|
|Original release||September 16, 1985– January 3, 1986|
America is an American lifestyle and variety talk show that aired weekday afternoons in syndication during the 1985-86 television season. The program, which emanated from Hollywood, California, premiered on September 16, 1985 and was initially hosted by Stuart Damon, Sarah Purcell, and McLean Stevenson with Charlie O'Donnell announcing.
Each show began with O'Donnell saying "good afternoon and welcome to America," then giving the date and a rundown of the topics covered by the show in the sixty minutes to come. After that, the hosts were introduced and the show began. Feature stories included focuses on people, places, and trends, as well as an interview segment with a celebrity. Some stories were presented by reporters working for the affiliate stations; for example, the December 18, 1985 episode featured a story about a Little Rock, Arkansas girl in need of a liver transplant that was presented by then-KATV reporter Greg Hurst.
Paramount sold America to stations from various ownership groups. This included all five of CBS' owned and operated stations (WCBS-TV in New York, WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, WBBM-TV in Chicago, KMOX-TV in St. Louis, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles), ABC O&O KGO-TV in San Francisco, and stations belonging to Paramount's production partner for America, Post-Newsweek Stations, including their largest affiliate WDIV-TV in Detroit. Paramount's major selling point was the time slots they were trying to place America in; the company felt that the focus on lifestyle and human interest stories would serve as a perfect lead in for the stations' early news broadcasts.
Despite Paramount's best efforts, America met with low ratings from the start. 1985 was a big year for syndicated programming as stations had many options to choose from to fill slots in their schedules. This led to an overabundance of choices and not enough places for them to go; new shows that were able to get slots like Paramount wanted for America often found themselves facing off against a popular talk show like The Phil Donahue Show, or perhaps another first run syndicated program like the popular game show Wheel of Fortune or courtroom shows like The People's Court that had been established as hits.
As the season reached November, the ratings for America were not improving and stations were losing interest in carrying the low-rated talk show. Stuart Damon left the program at the end of the month.
After thirteen weeks of episodes had aired, CBS decided they would no longer carry America on its five stations. Shortly after this decision, Paramount fired McLean Stevenson from his hosting duties and announced the program would be ending on January 3, 1986 after sixteen weeks and eighty shows. The final episode closed with Sarah Purcell thanking the viewers for their support, followed by a video montage of show staff set to "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen that served as the closing credits.
- America, December 18, 1985, Paramount Television
- Broadcasting Magazine issue from January 14, 1985, pages 68 and 69.