USA buys rights to two WB sitcoms

'Martin,' 'Living Single' in second syndie cycles

USA has locked up the basic-cable rights to the Warner Bros. sitcoms “Martin” and “Living Single” for a license fee that will add up to about $21 million for the two.

Sources say USA will pay about $90,000 for each of the 132 half-hours of “Martin,” covering a term of four years, and $80,000 for each of the 118 episodes of “Living Single,” encompassing a three-year term.

“Martin,” which stars Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell, will start on USA this fall, concurrent with the beginning of its second cycle in rerun syndication. “Living Single,” featuring Queen Latifah and Kim Coles, kicks off on USA in the fall of 2001, also at the start of its second syndication cycle.

Both shows will run simultaneously on USA and in syndication throughout the life of the USA contract. Spokesmen for USA and Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV, Cable & Network Features declined to comment on the deal.

“Martin” and “Living Single” are the first two 100-plus-episode sitcoms USA has bought since it corralled the exclusive window to Paramount TV’s “Wings” and Universal TV’s “Major Dad” back in the early ’90s. At the time of the deal, Paramount and Universal were the co-owners of USA, so the two sitcoms never made their way into TV syndication.

In recent years, USA has generated a cottage industry by purchasing a whole batch of sitcoms that failed on the networks and scheduling them for limited runs every weekday in non-crucial time periods, between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Busted sitcoms currently running daily on USA include “Hearts Afire,” “Almost Perfect,” “Ned & Stacey,” “Fired Up,” “Working,” “Naked Truth” and “Jeff Foxworthy.”

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