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‘Trial’ has its day on Court

Net pays big for Wolf series

Busted series don’t usually fetch big bucks in reruns, but when the show is part of the “Law & Order” franchise, the rules get thrown out.

NBC Universal will pocket a tidy $5.2 million for “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” — which NBC cancelled after only 13 episodes.

Court TV is ponying up $400,000 an episode for exclusive four-year cable-TV rights to nine of the 13. For the four other episodes, Court TV will pay closer to $300,000 apiece, with TNT shelling out the rest, because the four featured the late Jerry Orbach, who had shifted over from the original “Law & Order” series.

Orbach had inhabited the role of Det. Lennie Briscoe from the 1992-93 season to the 2003-04 season of “Law & Order.” Dick Wolf Prods. series is one of TNT’s bellwether programs, consistently one of the highest-rated rerun series on cable TV. Because Court TV will take more runs of the Orbach episodes of “Trial by Jury,” it will pay more in license fees than TNT.

Court TV plans to run “Trial by Jury,” which stars Bebe Neuwirth and Fred Dalton Thompson, Saturdays at 7 p.m. in a two-hour block beginning in December. There’ll even be one U.S.-premiere episode that never saw the light of day on NBC.

Henry Schleiff, chairman-CEO of Court TV, said Wolf has agreed to help promote the “Jury” runs by appearing on various Court TV programs, including Catherine Crier’s daily talkshow and “Hollywood Heat.”

Court TV buys reruns selectively, said Schleiff, choosing criminal-justice shows that receive critical praise and Emmy Awards. The network has previously purchased “NYPD Blue” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

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