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King World, Streisand talk TV pact

Barbra Streisand’s Barwood Films is in “very serious discussions” with King World Prods. for a longform TV development and production pact.

Reps for Streisand and King World declined comment Wednesday, but sources familiar with the talks say Streisand’s reps at ICM and King World have been in discussions for several weeks and are getting close to a deal.

Details of the proposed multiyear pact are sketchy, but sources say King World has offered a $1 million signing fee plus $250,000 annually for development. King World would cover all production costs and handle worldwide distribution of the titles. The deal is not believed to include any output guarantees from Barwood.

While Streisand and King World might seem like an odd pairing, industry insiders say King World’s proposal to Barwood dwarfed preliminary offers from other production/distribution entities.

A blue-chip production pact with Streisand would also further King World’s goal of expanding beyond firstrun syndication, where it dominates the field with such cash-cow hits as “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

While still hugely successful, those franchises are aging and King World is looking for other areas to invest the more than $700 million the publicly held company has on hand in cash.

Barwood, meanwhile, is becoming more and more active in longform TV production. Last year, Streisand inked a deal with pay cabler Showtime for three two-hour telefilms based on the nonfiction book “Rescuers: Stories of Moral Courage in the Holocaust.” The second in the series, “Varian’s War,” went into development last month. The Showtime titles will be distributed internationally by Paramount Network Television.

Streisand also executive produced the NBC made-for “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story,” which collected three Emmy Awards in 1995.

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