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20th TV works its Magic

Twentieth TV on Thursday confirmed that it has inked a deal with Earvin (Magic) Johnson to develop, host and produce a latenight syndie talk-variety strip for early 1998.

The show, executive produced by Johnson and his longtime agent Lon Rosen, is likely to air on the Fox O&Os in the 11 p.m. slot starting in January. Johnson will be competing for timeslots and viewers against new latenight strip “Vibe” from Quincy Jones and Columbia TriStar TV, which debuts on the Chris-Craft group this summer.

He’ll also go up against a new Buena Vista strip produced and hosted by Keenen Ivory Wayans, which is eyeing an August launch, but has no group home yet. The fate of Buena Vista’s “The John Salley Show,” set to debut as a weekly on the Fox O&Os in June, still is up in the air.

“I welcome the challenge of creating a program that will make people want to tune in at a time when the competi-tion is so intense,” Johnson said in a statement. “What can I say — competition is a key factor in all of my suc-cesses, both on and off the court.”

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