Blighty banks early on new U.S. series

Deals come on the heels of last month's L.A. Screenings

Hollywood studios continue to rack up deals for their primetime series with broadcasters abroad — including in the traditionally tough U.K. market.

A raft of new digital players in that territory as well as successful ratings for current American series on major U.K. broadcasters like ITV and Five have galvanized that market.

Deals come on the heels of last month’s L.A. Screenings, a 10-day event in which foreign program buyers get their first look at new Yank product. That buyers are signing on the dotted line in July rather than waiting for ratings results Stateside in early October suggests that the foreign market, especially the U.K., is buoyant.

Warner Bros. already has placed several of its dozen new primetime series with British broadcasters and Thursday unveiled two more deals.

Flextech’s LivingTV beat out local bidders to acquire the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced hour “Justice”; the drama “Men in Trees,” starring Anne Heche; and laffer “Happy Hour,” from the exec producers of “Roseanne.”

In a separate arrangement, Warner Bros. Intl. TV licensed the upcoming drama “Blade: The Series,” based on the movie trilogy, to the male-targeted channel Bravo. That nicher also just licensed 20th Century Fox’s “The Unit,” a midseason thriller from David Mamet and Shawn Ryan.

Both will debut in primetime this fall.

Meanwhile, terrestrial giants ITV and the BBC are in a bidding war to secure exclusive rights to Disney Channel’s hit telepic “High School Musical.”

The show will bow in the U.K. on the Disney Channel on Sept. 22, but Buena Vista is looking for a terrestrial partner.

Hailed as “Grease” for the 21st century, “High School Musical” has scored bigtime for Disney Channel in the U.S., driving music and DVD sales — the soundtrack has gone triple platinum.

A minimum three-month window is likely between the Disney Channel transmission in the U.K. and a terrestrial premiere.

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