Libraries part of deal with Cox-owned Rysher

The Paramount TV Group has wrapped up a complex deal with Rysher Entertainment that gives Par full ownership of the syndie stalwart “Entertainment Tonight,” and distribution rights to Rysher’s TV and film library.

Deal between Par and Cox Broadcasting-owned Rysher, which was put up for sale in late 1997, had been expected (Daily Variety, April 8). Financial details were not disclosed, but sources pegged the value of Cox’s 50% ownership stake in “ET” in the $60 million-$80 million range.

Cox Broadcasting, a privately held division of Atlanta-based cable and newspaper giant Cox Communications, was one of Par’s original partners in launching the groundbreaking “ET” newsmag strip in 1981. Cox eventually transferred its lucrative “ET” ownership stake and other programming assets to Rysher, the indie production-distribution outfit it acquired for about $15 million in 1993.

“In the end we made a deal that was good for everybody,” Cox Broadcasting prexy Nick Trigony said.

Added Par TV Group chairman Kerry McCluggage, “Cox has been a great partner for us all these years in ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and that was the foundation for our ability to sit down and make a deal that was a good fit for both of us.”

Distrib rights

Cox retains ownership of the Rysher library, but Par takes over distribution rights to its existing slate of syndie and network series, which include the courtshow strip “Judge Mills Lane,” the CBS actioner “Nash Bridges” and HBO’s “Oz.” Par also inherits Rysher’s international distribution pact with HBO, covering such series as “Sex in the City” and “Arli$$.”

Additionally, Par gets distribution rights to 1700 hours of series and telefilms from Bing Crosby Prods. and Television Program Enterprises, a list of titles that range from the 1980s syndie hit “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” to the 1960s medical drama “Ben Casey.”

Rysher itself produced about two dozen features — some co-produced with Par — before shuttering its film arm in 1997 amid a sea of red ink. Par already had distribution rights to some Rysher titles, but titles covered in the new agreement include “Dear God,” “Kingpin,” “Big Night” and “It Takes Two.”

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