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Turner grabs ‘Fargo’away from networks

NEW YORK — Ted Turner’s cable channels TBS and TNT scored another torpedo strike on the broadcast networks, outbidding them for the TV rights to “Fargo,” nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture and best actress.

The “Fargo” deal continues the momentum by TBS and TNT, which now claim U.S. TV-premiere dibs on 54 theatricals, at least a dozen of which were of interest to one or more of the broadcast networks. Turner said it also signed the just-released “Vegas Vacation” for an exclusive debut on TBS, and confirmed that it will supplant the broadcast networks for Clint Eastwood’s “Absolute Power” (Daily Variety, Feb. 27).

The significance of getting “Fargo” is that, unlike “Absolute Power” and “Vegas Vacation,” it’s not from the distribution factory controlled by Time Warner, which also owns Turner Broadcasting. “Fargo” got its theatrical release through Gramercy Pictures, and ITC Distribution handled the network sale. Gramercy and ITC are divisions of Polygram.

The parties wouldn’t discuss price, but sources say the license fee Turner will pay is dependent on domestic box office.

Additional titles that will go to TBS and TNT instead of to the broadcast networks include two other movies that have best-picture Oscar nominations, “The English Patient” and “Shine.”

The networks aren’t completely shut out from the Coen brothers’ film, though. As has been previously reported, CBS is developing an hour drama series based on “Fargo.”

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