UPN affils in Gotham, Chi, L.A. to air reruns

In the latest flurry of syndie off-network sales activity, Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Distribution has inked deals for the rerun rights to WB Network sitcom “The Jamie Foxx Show” with UPN affils in the top three TV markets.

“Jamie Foxx,” now in its third season on the WB, has been picked up on a cash-plus-barter basis for a fall 2000 debut by Chris Craft/United Television’s WWOR New York and KCOP Los Angeles and indie UPN affil WPWR Chicago.

WB’s Telepictures Distribution is said to have inked a number of other station deals for “Jamie Foxx,” but reps for the studio’s syndie arm declined to comment on specifics. The sitcom stars comic Foxx as a Texas native who uproots to go work for his family’s hotel in Los Angeles while he tries to break into showbiz.

The WB and other major distribs are increasingly facing a tough market to sell all but the most coveted hit series. With the studios churning out 50-plus sitcoms this fall for the six major web and weblets, shelf space for off-net fare on local stations is becoming increasingly dear.

Paramount has been making the station rounds for some time with the ABC “TGIF” hit “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and UPN’s “Clueless.” Par had been on the sales trail with “Spin City,” which it picked up earlier this year in a distribution deal with DreamWorks TV, and only recently started the full court press on “Sabrina” and “Clueless.”

Station sources report there’s more interest in “Sabrina” than “Clueless,” in spite of an aggressive pitch by Par to market the two half-hours to stations as a good afternoon/early evening sitcom combo block. Par insiders discounted the divided buzz on the two shows and say station deals for both shows are imminent.

Fox’s Twentieth TV has a slew of dramas to bring to cable and broadcast buyers over the coming season, chiefly the hot sophomore dramedy “Ally McBeal.” Twentieth is grooming its out-there fantasy-dramas “Millennium,” from “X-Files” oracle Chris Carter, and NBC’s “The Pretender.”

Down the road a piece, Twentieth will crank up the sales pitch for sitcom “Dharma & Greg,” which had a promising first season on ABC, and another drama from “Ally” creator David E. Kelley, ABC’s “The Practice.” CBS’ Eyemark Entertainment is prepping for the off-net launch of the Eye web’s much-praised workhorse sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” now heading into its third season.

Columbia TriStar TV Distribution, which has been raking in mega-coin all year with “Seinfeld” syndie renewals, is poised to bring out the next big-ticket off-net sitcom, NBC’s “Just Shoot Me.” Prospective station buyers will keep a close eye on how the Brillstein-Grey comedy performs this fall when it shifts from NBC’s powerhouse Thursday lineup to the 9 p.m. Tuesday slot in its second full season.

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