License fees cut to secure another year
NBC, John Wells Prods. and Warner Bros. TV are close to wrapping up a long-expected deal to renew “The West Wing” for at least one more season.
None of the parties involved would talk Tuesday, but those familiar with the negotiations said just a few small deal points were left to be hammered out. NBC is expected to get another season of the show at a substantially reduced license fee vs. what the net had been paying, along with options for future seasons.
Under terms of the most recent “West Wing” license fee agreement, Peacock shelled out about $6 million per episode. That price will go down to about $3 million, according to insiders. Under the last deal, license fee for the show was pegged in part to ratings; if that’s true under the new pact, per-seg fee could increase if ratings go up next season.
In any event, given the extra syndie coin another season of “West Wing” will generate for WBTV and Wells, the studio and producer won’t be losing money on the deal. Overhead for the show will also likely go down substantially if, as expected, many of the show’s veteran thesps shift to recurring status.
Despite taking a big ratings hit this season — thanks in part to both “American Idol” and NBC’s inability to find a solid 8 p.m. lead-in — “West Wing” still does respectable numbers Wednesdays at 9.
As for cast renewals, “West Wing” star Martin Sheen is expected to return to the series in some form. Whether Jimmy Smits or Alan Alda will be back next year depends on how Wells decides to play out the current campaign storyline.
NBC may hold off announcing a “West Wing” deal until Thursday, when Peacock Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly briefs advertisers on the net’s fall development. Reilly may also use the event to announce an extension of the net’s deal for long-running hit “ER.”