Liotta, Scorsese reunite to hype 'Departed'

Ray Liotta and Martin Scorsese are teaming again — sort of.

Under a deal with CBS, Warner Bros. will use the premiere of “Smith,” “Goodfellas” star Liotta’s new Eye drama, to help hype upcoming Scorsese feature “The Departed.” Arrangement calls for the “Smith” bow to air with just four minutes of commercials — all for the new Scorsese pic.

Making the plan possible: The first episode of “Smith” runs nearly a full hour sans commercials. Eye could’ve aired the pilot as a 90-minute special, but limiting ad time can be an effective way to draw attention to a show.

“It’s a great way to let viewers get into the program,” CBS Television exec VP of network sales Chris Simon told Daily Variety. “There’s a great benefit for us and for the client.”

At the start of the “Smith” premiere, an announcer will let auds know that the episode is being sponsored with limited commercials by “The Departed.” It’s likely Warner will then split its four minutes of ad time into a pair of two-minute pods, each offering an extended look at the pic.

CBS has turned over all the ad time in a show to a single sponsor before. Eye elicited lots of attention last year when electronics maker Philips bought out all the time on an episode of “60 Minutes.”

Philips paid a premium for that right, and while CBS isn’t commenting about the terms of the Warner deal, it seems logical that the studio also paid a bit more for exclusive ad rights. Despite giving up nearly 10 minutes of ad time, the Eye isn’t expected to lose any money on the deal.

“Smith” seems a logical home for an ad push on behalf of “The Departed.” Skein revolves around a group of criminals being chased by the government, while Scorsese’s pic explores the world of cops and mobsters.

Coincidentally, “Smith” is from Warner Bros. TV. Insiders said the feature studio negotiated the ad deal with CBS directly and without the involvement of WBTV.

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