NBCE spreads wings

Distrib takes 'Noon,' sudser overseas

CANNES — It’s no longer all about the Peacock at NBC Enterprises.

Web’s distribution arm has snagged the international TV and international homevid rights to the upcoming TBS Superstation remake of the classic Gary Cooper oater “High Noon,” which recently began production with Tom Skerritt in the Cooper role. Pact reps the first time NBCE has made a significant acquisition of a non-NBC-owned property.

Separately, NBCE — using some nontraditional means — is making progress on its bid to sell the Peacock-owned sudser “Passions” internationally.

Peacock is close to inking deals in several European markets for broadcasting rights to the oft-loopy serial, which bowed just nine months ago as a replacement for Spelling Television’s “Sunset Beach.” Rather than cash, NBCE may sell the sudser on a barter basis, thus retaining a percentage of whatever ad revenue the local broadcaster pulls in.

Such deal are common in domestic syndication, but NBCE has rarely agreed to such terms.

‘Passions’ slow to ignite

“Passions” has not been a fast seller overseas, in marked contrast to “Beach,” which was sold in many markets even before launch. “Beach,” however, had the name-brand appeal of Aaron Spelling as a producer behind it.

Peacock has just renewed “Passions” through July 2001.

NBCE made the deal for “High Noon” with Rosemont Prods. Intl., which is producing the pic for TBS. Turner-owned cabler did not retain international rights to the pic.

While Peacock product will remain the bread and butter of NBCE, the “High Noon” purchase signals a clear drive to make the most of the Peacock’s selling power, according to NBC exec VP Jerry Petry.

“Acquiring product such as this is part of our long-range plan to expand our product catalog and enhance our reputation as a distributor of very appealing, high-quality product in the international marketplace,” Petry said.

Decline in product

Helping to spur NBCE’s expansion: a marked decline in the number of NBC-produced telepics available for global distribution. Peacock has been airing far fewer original pics over the past three seasons, beefing up instead on sitcoms, newsmags and even gameshows.

But though NBC’s need for original pics has been reduced, international broadcasters remain hungry for two- and four-hour events.

“In order to meet the needs of our clients, I felt it would be smart for us to acquire outside product to supplement (NBC-produced fare),” Petry said in an interview with Daily Variety.

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