Sci Fi believes in ‘Ripley’

Net seeks rights to unreal reality

NEW YORK — The Sci Fi Channel will pony up about $7 million for exclusive cable rights to reruns of Sony Pictures TV’s bizarro reality series “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

The five-year license term will allow Sci Fi to start playing the skein’s 88 hourlong episodes late next month in a double run every Wednesday night at 8 and 9, leading into the network’s original reality series “Ghost Hunters,” which it’s renewed for a second cycle.

Hosted by Dean Cain, “Ripley’s” specialized in off-the-wall stories ranging from albino gorillas to drive-in funerals. TBS commissioned the show from Sony and ran it from 2000-03. Sony also put the series into off-TBS syndication, where it overlapped with the TBS plays. The WB network, a sibling of TBS, also scheduled eight plays of “Ripley’s” in fall 2001.

The Sci Fi Channel ran an earlier version of “Ripley’s,” which played on ABC from 1982-86, hosted by Jack Palance and a succession of three female co-hosts: Catherine Shirriff, Marie Osmond and his daughter Holly Palance.

With the Sci Fi purchase, “Ripley’s” becomes one of the rare firstrun series that originated on a basic-cable network and ended up in reruns on a different basic-cable channel.

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