Rupe running on MTM?

Now that News Corp., has agreed to buy International Family Entertainment, one big question remains unanswered: What happens to MTM Entertainment?

Sources say MTM CEO Tony Thomopoulos has been seeking studio backers who would buy MTM and set it up as a boutique production company, keeping all the employees intact. So far, no takers.

MTM execs are fearful Rupert Murdoch will decide to absorb its three network shows into 20th Century Fox, keep the MTM library and brand, but laying off most of the employees — as he did with New World Entertainment.

It’s no secret that Murdoch’s interest in IFE was the Family Channel, not MTM, which sources say lost $15 million last year on writer-producer deals and deficits on such shows as “The Pretender,” which is half-owned by NBC Studios.

MTM’s last firstrun syndie project, “The Cape,” was canceled earlier this year, and soon after, worldwide distribution prexy Chuck Larsen ankled. Buzz is that execs on the network side are out looking elsewhere now, too.

News Corp. investor relations exec Bill Sorenson didn’t give much of a clue as to the company’s plans for MTM in a call to Wall Street analysts Wednesday: “MTM is a valuable asset that may have large benefits to any number of our programming services both here and overseas. We don’t know what we will do with it.”

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