The DNA test has become a key part of several popular tabloid talk shows, including the controversial Jeremy Kyle Show and, in the US, The Maury Povich Show.
Paternity Court takes the concept to a new level by making the paternity test a key element in the daytime court room series.
In the show family lawyer Lauren Lake presides over paternity disputes and attempts to help heal the rifts caused by the fallout from these cases and the ensuing DNA test results.
The show is made by Orion TV Productions and distributed by its parent company MGM, making it the Hollywood studio’s first series for first-run syndication in the US for a decade. The show is exec produced by David Armour, who has worked on Ricki Lake and Queen Latifah talk shows among others.
MGM is on international distribution duty and started talking to buyers about sales of the finished version and the format at MIPCOM.
“We looked at what was working and people were interested in the DNA reveal, so we created a format centered on that – the idea was that DNA reveal plus a court show,” explains Chris Ottinger, president of International Television Distribution and Acquisitions at MGM.
“We expected to be controversial, but Lauren Lake has brought something a lot of people didn’t expect from the show, which is a real heart and level of emotion as well as the reveal. In tone it’s closer to Oprah than Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer.
In each half hour two cases are heard by Lake – there is no jury.
The show has generated good numbers in the US. From weeks one to two it doubled its share among teens and was up double digit in the 18-to-34 and core female demos. Unlike all other court shows on US air it has built share, growing from a 0.8 household rating at launch in September to a 1.0 rating.
Ottinger says there is a clear format that could be remade internationally and that MGM will also do deals for the finished tape in English-speaking markets.
The show: Paternity Court
The producer: Orion TV Productions
The broadcaster: Numerous affiliate stations (US)
The distributor: MGM
Concept: Daytime court room series settling paternity disputes with DNA tests