[08/23/06 - 12:00 AM]
Debmar-Mercury Announces Historic Distribution Deals with Tbs, FOX Station Group for First-Run Syndicated Sitcom ''Tyler Perry's House of Payne''

[via press release from Debmar-Mercury]

Debmar-Mercury Announces Historic Distribution Deals with TBS, FOX Station Group for First-Run Syndicated Sitcom ''Tyler Perry's House of Payne''

LOS ANGELES -- Aug. 23, 2006--Debmar-Mercury:

-- Tremendous Viewer Response to Ten Market Test Run Merited Production of an Unprecedented 100 Complete Episodes at Launch

-- TBS to Launch the Series Nationally in Primetime Beginning June 2007; Select FOX-Owned Stations in New York, Houston, Dallas, and Washington D.C. and Weigel's WCUI-TV Chicago to Follow Beginning September 2008

Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein today announced historic distribution deals with TBS and FOX for the original first-run syndicated sitcom "Tyler Perry's House of Payne." After a tremendously successful test run in ten major markets earlier this summer, Debmar-Mercury, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lionsgate, has announced plans for the national launch of the series. Beginning June 2007, TBS will have access to an unprecedented 100 fully produced episodes provided upfront. Broadcast syndication will follow in September of 2008, led by FOX-owned stations in New York, Dallas, Houston and Washington, D.C., and Weigel's WCIU-TV Chicago, who will air the series concurrently with TBS.

"Tyler Perry's House of Payne" was created by Tyler Perry, who has teamed with Lionsgate on the consecutive #1 theatrical hits DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN and MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION. The series is the first television outing for Perry, expanding his relationship with the Lionsgate family as he partners with Debmar-Mercury to develop the show specifically for first-run syndication. Perry serves as director, producer, executive producer and writer on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," which is distributed by Debmar-Mercury.

"The highly successful test run of 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne' this summer proved to broadcasters around the country that viewers will respond to this show. We are thrilled that TBS and FOX recognized the value of the series and the tremendous appeal of Tyler's sensibility, and have come on board with this ambitious launch strategy," said Debmar-Mercury co-president Mort Marcus.

"'Tyler Perry's House of Payne' is the first originally-produced syndicated comedy to launch with an unprecedented 100-episode order," continued Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein. "Further, this proves that independent producers and distributors have a viable alternative to create and distribute entertainment properties successfully and profitably."

According to TBS's deal with Debmar-Mercury, TBS will begin airing episodes in primetime beginning in June of 2007, with the network having exclusive rights to the episodes before they become available to local stations through syndication in September 2008. TBS's deal was negotiated on the network's behalf by Jonathan Katz, senior vice president of program planning and acquisitions for Turner Broadcasting.

"Tyler Perry has proven himself to be not only an extremely talented individual, but along with distributor Debmar-Mercury, is also helping usher the industry into a new era with innovative distribution models," said Ken Schwab, senior vice president of programming for TBS and sister network TNT. "We had phenomenal success with our test run of 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne' on WTBS in the Atlanta market, and we're thrilled to be able to extend that success into an exclusive national run of new episodes on TBS."

FOX has picked up the series to air on WWOR-My9 New York, KTXH CH 20 Houston, KDFI-TV CH 27 Dallas, and WDCA-TV CH 20 Washington, D.C. The terms of the four-year deals with FOX and Weigel are cash plus barter, and will begin airing in September of 2008, concurrent with the TBS run, which will continue throughout the term.

"Congratulations to Tyler Perry and Debmar-Mercury for thinking outside the box on this one," said Frank Cicha, Senior Vice President of Programming for Fox Television Stations. "It was exciting to be part of the 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne' test, and we're very much looking forward to having the show as an integral part of our syndicated lineup on these key MyNetworkTV affiliates."

"For a creator, you couldn't ask for a better opportunity," said Tyler Perry. "With TBS and FOX committed to 100 episodes of my series, I can concentrate on telling great stories and producing the best series possible."

"This monumental and unprecedented deal is another building block to extending the Tyler Perry brand in all media," said the William Morris Agency's Mark Itkin and Charles King, who represent Perry and put together his distribution and production deal with Debmar-Mercury. Tyler is also represented by Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf LLP.

"Tyler Perry's House of Payne" follows the comic situations that ensue when a multi-generational family lives under one roof. It stars Allen Payne as C.J. Payne, who is forced to move in with his parents (Lavan Davis as Curtis Payne and Cassi Davis as Ella Payne) after his house burns down. Joining the Payne household are C.J.'s two children, Malik (Larramie "Doc" Shaw) and Jazmin (China Anne McClain). "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" also stars Demetria McKinney as Janine, C.J.'s ex-wife; Rochelle Aytes as Nicole, C.J.'s new love interest; and Denise Burse as Claretha, the nosy and frisky next-door neighbor.

About Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury

Lionsgate is the leading independent filmed entertainment studio, winning this year's Best Picture Academy Award(R) for CRASH, generating two consecutive years of $300 million-plus domestic theatrical box office, operating a $500 million-plus home entertainment business and producing a broad slate of prime time television series for fiscal 2007. It is a premier producer and distributor of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment, and video-on-demand content. Its prestigious and prolific library of more than 7,800 titles is a valuable source of stable, recurring revenue and a foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate brand is synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.

Debmar-Mercury is a worldwide production and distribution media company specializing in network, cable, syndication, VOD/Pay-Per-View and Pay TV. Debmar-Mercury owns the distribution rights to the country's fastest growing off-net sitcom, "South Park," an extensive movie library featuring titles from Revolution Studios, and Tyler Perry's first-run syndicated sitcom, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," which debuted in select markets in summer 2006. The company also licenses the Sci-Fi Channel's hit series "Farscape," USA Network's "The Dead Zone," Lionsgate films, and "National Geographic's Really Wild Animals." Debmar-Mercury was acquired last month by Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF), the premier independent filmed entertainment studio, and is Lionsgate's wholly-owned television syndication subsidiary.

About Tyler Perry

Since making his film debut with DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, Tyler Perry has become a multimedia phenomenon with a roster of hugely successful film, stage, television, and book projects. Perry's first two films have grossed over $113 million in the U.S. and the combined sales of his nine DVDs just passed 11 million units. Perry's first book, Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Life and Love, debuted at #1 on the New York Times' hardcover nonfiction bestseller list and remained in the Top 10 for twelve weeks. Most recently he finished production of his next film, DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS, which will be released February 2007 by Lionsgate.

About TBS

TBS, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is television's "very funny" network. It serves as home to such hot contemporary comedies as "Sex and the City," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Family Guy," "Seinfeld," and "Friends"; original comedy series, like the upcoming scripted comedies "My Boys" and "10 Items or Less"; specials and special events, like The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, for which TBS serves as title sponsor; blockbuster movies; and hosted movie showcases. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and a leading provider of programming for the television industry.

About Fox Television Stations

The Fox Television Stations group, headed by Chairman Roger Ailes, is one of the nation's largest owned-and-operated network broadcast groups, comprising 35 stations in 26 markets and covering nearly 45% of U.S. television homes. This includes six duopolies in the top 10 markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C. and Houston; as well as duopolies in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Orlando.

  [august 2006]  


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