Comedy net gets ‘High,’ other laffers

Cabler also nabs 'Mona,' 'Planet'

NEW YORK — Comedy Central, which has made something of a cottage industry out of buying exclusive network windows to modestly performing theatrical movies, has scored again, snaring the rights to “High Fidelity,” “Drowning Mona” and “What Planet Are You From.”

Neither distrib Buena Vista TV nor Comedy Central would comment on “High Fidelity,” starring John Cusack and directed by Stephen Frears. But sources said the network has bought the broadcast window for a license fee of $3 million-$4 million and will be able to schedule it beginning late in 2002.

In an announcement, Comedy Central reported the deal with Columbia TriStar TV Distribution for “Drowning Mona,” which stars Bette Midler and Danny DeVito, and Mike Nichols’ “What Planet Are You From,” with Garry Shandling and Annette Bening.

Neither movie caught fire at the box office, with “Mona” collecting $15.5 million in U.S. theaters and “Planet” staggering to a $6.27 million total. But the network is convinced, a spokesman said, that with the right scheduling and promotion, both movies will harvest a bigger audience than Comedy Central usually musters.

The spokesman said the comedy cabler plans to ramp up the marketing of network-exclusive theatricals like “Rushmore” and “The Out-of-Towners,” hoping that the extra viewers will then stay around to watch some of the original programming that’s filling more and more of the schedule.

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