[01/28/05 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: January 28
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

DEAD LIKE ME (Showtime) - MGM executives have confirmed the company is looking into syndicating repeats of the recently axed Showtime drama to other cable networks as well as local stations across the country. Any deals however are secondary to finding a new first-run home for the series, which MGM says is still a very real possibility. "We're now talking to basic cable networks about moving it, and we ultimately will syndicate that," Jim Packer, MGM's executive vice president of television distribution for North America recently told Multichannel News. "It's a model that we are very comfortable with." To date, 30 hours of "Dead Like Me" have been produced.

LOVE MONKEY (CBS, New!) - The Eye has given a cast-contingent pilot presentation order to a small screen adaptation of Kyle Smith's book of the same name, about four male friends at different stages of life and love as told through the eyes of a single, thirtysomething record executive. Michael Rauch ("In the Weeds") will write and executive produce the project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television and Paramount Network Television. Mark Johnson is also on board as an executive producer.

MONK/QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (USA/Bravo) - NBC Universal Television Distribution is in the process of packaging each show's off-network run for syndication on other cable networks as well as local stations across the country. "We're in the process of planning on 'Monk' and 'Queer Eye,'" Arthur Hasson, executive vice president of NBC Universal Television Distribution, cable and ancillary, told Multichannel News. "When we look at any product, be it off NBC or USA � whatever � we look at maximizing our revenues."

QUEER AS FOLK (Showtime) - The pay channel is hoping to offer repeats of the show's expected 86-episode run into off-network syndication. Showtime, who apparently has the domestic off-network rights to the series, plans to follow in the footsteps of HBO, which has found success in the syndicated sales of "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos." No timetable however has been set. "So we're looking to place the first couple of seasons and get someone to license that," Matthew Duda, Showtime's executive vice president of acquisitions, planning and distribution, said in an interview with Multichannel News. "We've had a lot of conversations already. It looks like we're very close to getting that placed."

REVVED (FOX, New!) - Feature writer Greg Coolidge ("Sorority Boys") have landed a pilot commitment from FOX about two brothers in North Carolina NASCAR country who, working out of a chop shop, try to protect local residents from threats of big business and corrupt government. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the project, with Coolidge writing the pilot script and executive producing alongside Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - The pay channel is expected to announce today that either TNT or A&E has emerged as the winner of the syndicated rights to "The Sopranos" for a record $2.1 million per episode. Other cable networks said to be bidding were USA, Spike TV, FX and Lifetime however it appears only TNT and A&E are still in the hunt. With as many as 78 episodes expected to be completed by the time "The Sopranos" wraps, HBO could pocket as much as $163.8 million from the deal, nearly two and a half times the amount it earned from its sale of "Sex and the City" to TBS ($68 million).

Industry speculation says TNT will come out on top as it is a corporate sibling of HBO however the network insists it is shooting for top dollar, regardless of any implied corporate loyalty. Should A&E snag the rights, the cable channel reportedly will strip the show weeknights at 7:00/6:00c and 11:00/10:00c with the latter being an "uncut" version of the earlier broadcast. In addition, with so much money involved the winner may snag the exclusive rights to the show, meaning HBO couldn't sell weekend repeats to local stations. HBO also wouldn't put a cap on the number of episodes it plans to deliver, leading many industry insiders to believe the network may be attempting to squeeze a seventh season of the series from creator David Chase.

STARGATE ATLANTIS (Sci Fi) - MGM's syndication arm has cleared the series on 28 Fox owned-and-operated stations for a fall 2005 launch. Said stations, most of which already carry repeats of the show's parent series, reach about 40% of the country. Additional clearances are expected to be announced shortly which will likely put the show in the 90-95% range.

TICKET TO RIDE (FOX, New!) - Laurie McCarthy and Gwendolyn Parker ("C.S.I.: Miami") have scored a pilot order from FOX for a new drama about 20 people from all walks of life who share a lottery ticket that wins $386 million. The project, which is set up at Regency Television, would then deal with the complications that come from winning so much money. The pair will write the pilot script with McCarthy executive producing and Parker co-executive producing.

TWISTED TALES (FOX, New!) - "Spawn" creator Todd McFarlane is developing a new half-hour anthology series for the network that will focus on various tales of horror, fantasy or sci-fi. McFarlane himself plans to serve as a Rod Serling-esque host by introducing each episode from a fake basement. The project is set up at Fox TV Studios' alternative division in association with Angry Films ("The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen") and McFarlane's own banner. Trey Callaway ("I Still Know What You Did Last Summer") is also on board to shepherd the project, which will be executive produced by Callaway, McFarlane, Terry Fitzgerald, Rick Benattar, Susan Montford and Don Murphy. FOX has ordered a pilot script and bible for the series, which is loosely based on McFarlane's comic series of the same name.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [january 2005]  


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