MGM reels in syndie rights to New Line pix

Lion sells national-advertising time in studio's product

NEW YORK — MGM TV Distribution has landed U.S. syndication rights to New Line theatricals including “Snakes on a Plane,” the Antonio Banderas dance pic “Take the Lead” and Jack Black’s forthcoming “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.”

Jim Rosenthal, president of New Line TV, said MGM will clear TV stations for the latest New Line movies and for reruns of the weekly Court TV series “Masterminds.” In addition, MGM will sell the national-advertising time in New Line product, replacing Tribune’s ad-sales operation.

For MGM, the two-year New Line pact is the first major syndication deal for the company since it reopened for business last month under Jim Packer, just promoted to the new post of president at the MGM Worldwide TV Distribution Group.

The New Line pics will complement the vast MGM library of theatricals, Packer said. He added that the 26 hours of “Masterminds,” a nonfiction series that deals with intricate robberies and the criminals who engineered them, fits the weekly format of two other MGM syndicated shows, “Stargate SG-1” and “The Outer Limits.”

New Line chose MGM over its sister distribution company Warner Bros. Domestic TV because the smaller Lion will be able to spend more time on the nurturing of New Line’s product, Rosenthal said.

New arrangement will allow David Spiegelman, senior exec VP of domestic TV distribution and marketing for New Line TV, to focus his attention on developing, producing and buying fresh syndicated programming for MGM to distribute. Spiegelman also will continue to sell all of New Line’s product to pay TV, basic cable, network TV and pay-per-view.

Packer said he has hired the veteran syndie executive John Bryan to work with Spiegelman. Bryan’s title is exec VP of broadcast strategy.

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