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USA may snag ‘Jag’ reruns

USA Network is said to be close to picking up rerun rights to the Paramount-produced CBS drama series “Jag,” sources say. It was unclear late Friday whether reruns of the show are set to bow in 1998 or 1999.

The deal is believed to have been negotiated as part of Viacom’s settlement with Universal TV over their now-disbanded USA Networks partnership. After completing the $1.7 billion buyout of Viacom’s half-interest in USA Networks last week, Universal promptly sold the USA and Sci-Fi Channel cable nets and other TV assets to Barry Diller’s HSN Inc.

As a result, it’s questionable whether the drama about legal eagles in the military will ever see the light of day on USA. The incoming owners already have hinted of plans to significantly overhaul the programming strategy of the widely distributed basic cabler.

A Par spokeswoman declined comment on the matter, and a USA rep could not confirm last week whether the cabler has indeed snagged “Jag.” One source said the agreement between U and Viacom valued “Jag” at about $600,000 per episode, while another exec familiar with the deal said the pricetag was lower but still in the mid-six-figure range.

Action-adventure drama

“Jag,” which is military-speak for Judge Advocate General, stars David James Elliott as an ace pilot turned lawyer and Catherine Bell as his by-the-book partner. The action-adventure drama bowed on NBC in fall 1995 and was picked up last season by CBS.

“Jag” has averaged a 9.0 national Nielsen household rating and 14 share for the season to date. In its new Tuesday 8 p.m. slot, the show has averaged about 12.8 million viewers per week.

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