NEW YORK — Lifetime, which is stocking up on reruns of female-oriented sitcoms like Warner Bros.’ “Suddenly Susan” and Eyemark’s “Caroline in the City,” has added NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” to its portfolio.
Produced by NBC Studios and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic TV, “Will & Grace” becomes available to Lifetime in fall 2005.
The parties to the deal declined comment, but sources said Lifetime will pony up a hefty license fee of $450,000 per half-hour. In exchange, one source said, Lifetime will get to keep all of the advertising time in each cable play.
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By contrast, the 22 Tribune-owned TV stations that have bought the TV syndication rights to “Will & Grace,” beginning in September 2002, agreed to set aside three 30-second spots within each run — an arrangement typical of most syndication-rerun deals in recent years.
Some spirited cable bidding took place over “Will & Grace” before Lifetime clinched the deal, with USA and TBS both showing strong interest.
Two other potentially lucrative sitcoms — Twentieth TV’s “Dharma & Greg” and Carsey Werner’s “That ’70s Show” — are cruising the marketplace looking for buyers among the TV station groups and the cable networks.
Warner Bros. removed one sticking point to the Lifetime deal, sources said, when it got Tribune to agree to remove “Will & Grace” from the satellite feed of WGN Chicago in fall 2005. WGN reaches more than 45 million cable and satellite subscribers outside the Chicago area, who will still get “Will & Grace” throughout the first three years of the Tribune contract from 2002-05.