Imagine Television and the WB are in serious conversations about moving the critically-lauded toon laffer “The PJs” from its Fox Broadcasting crib to the Frog’s pad next season.
FBC has let its option for “The PJs” expire, not wanting to commit to another season of the Eddie Murphy-produced show until after seeing how a planned summer run of the series fares with viewers.
That move has given Imagine the right to talk to other outlets about ordering additional segs of the skein. While no final decisions are expected until May at the earliest, industry insiders say Frog execs are seriously interested in buying 13 original episodes of the toon to air as part of the WB’s Friday night comedy block.
Conversations between Imagine and the WB have been going on for the past six weeks, though insiders stress that no formal negotiations have yet begun.
As part of the proposed deal, the WB would, for the price of 13 segs, also land the rights to 22 additional segs of “The PJs” skedded to air this summer on Fox, an ownership stake in the show (shared with Imagine and Disney) and merchandising rights.
Should a pact go down, it would rep a major coup for Imagine and company topper Tony Krantz: Most industry insiders figured the show would die if Fox failed to pick up the option. Deal would also be a huge vote of confidence from the WB.
Insiders said there’s no bad blood between Fox and Imagine. Fox execs have explained that they still have faith in “The PJs,” but that for the time being, the net believes the soon-to-return “Family Guy” stands a better chance of catching fire on the net.
Despite the lack of a signed deal, Krantz has picked up the options of several key vocal talents on the show, betting heavily that “PJs” will continue in some form. Murphy is also set to remain as an exec producer and the lead vocal thesp.
While “The PJs” got off to a solid start when it debuted early last year on Fox, numerous sked shuffles and the lack of a suitable companion skein led to disappointing Nielsens for the show. Nonetheless, “The PJs” still managed to regularly improve upon its lead-ins.
If the toon migrates to the WB, skedders intend to add it to an urban-skewing laff block that now consists of “For Your Love,” “The Steve Harvey Show” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.” WB is negotiating renewal deals for the latter two series, but industry insiders are hopeful deals can be completed.
Reps for the WB and Imagine both declined to comment on discussions, but industry insiders said an Imagine-WB deal makes sense.
“Fox has never really given the show a chance. They never really knew what they had,” one veteran exec said. “And the WB sees a real opportunity to create a franchise.”