VH-1 and Chicago pubcaster WTTW have teamed to create “Center Stage,” a live-to-tape performance series that will air on both and include appearances by such acts as Keith Richards, Michael Bolton and Neil Young.

The deal is believed to be the first time a cable network and a PBS station have teamed to jointly produce and air a series and jointly participate in the back end.

In a similar vein, CBS News Prods. and WNET in New York announced that PBS will air a one-hour special on the famine in Somalia produced by the network news division in association with the flagship public TV station.

“Center Stage” will debut on VH-1 in February in a half-hour format and debut on WTTW in an hour-long edition in the Summer of 1993. Future telecasts on other public stations are expected.

Each of the shows will be taped before an audience at WTTW’s studios in Chicago, interspersing interview and documentary clips with live music.

The deal is being described as almost 50/50 between the partners. The VH-1 version will carry advertising, while WTTW will seek a corporate underwriter. It’s possible that one or more companies will buy time on VH-1 and underwrite the WTTW telecast.

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