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Inside Move: ATG at half staff

Ovitz banner waves as it courts suitors

The fate of Artists Television Group could be determined by this week, as Mike Ovitz continues to scramble for a partner to help absorb the company’s massive overhead costs.

The first step in ATG’s transition came Aug. 8, when the production company sliced its staff nearly in half, pinkslipping 18 employees.

ATG’s top execs, including prexy Eric Tannenbaum, remain at the company and were even out pitching projects last week. But the staff dismissals only heightened questions about the long-term future of ATG.

The division’s status has been unclear since word surfaced that Ovitz had been shopping the production company to either unload or find a partner. Studios and networks such as CBS, NBC Studios, 20th Century Fox TV, Paramount and Warner Bros. have all met with ATG, but none seem interested in striking a deal.

Paramount may have interest in some sort of arrangement with ATG, but rumors that the production company might shut down haven’t subsided.

ATG’s distribution deal with Sony (which expires next June) has complicated matters, as has its sizable talent roster, which boasts valuable names but carries a hefty pricetag.

For now, ATG’s slate includes the CBS sitcom “The Ellen Show” and WB reality gamer “Lost in the USA” this fall, as well as the WB midseason entries “Cedric the Coach” and “No Ordinary Girl.”

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