Perry, WWOR gain through ‘Payne’

Gotham auds tuning in to sitcom

Tyler Perry, who has scored big grosses with his low-budget theatricals “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” is off to a dazzling start in the WWOR New York station test of the 10 episodes of his firstrun syndicated sitcom “House of Payne.”

Counting all of the sitcom’s runs between April 27 and May 18, chiefly the weeknight-at-11 plays since May 8, “Payne” has racked up a 2.6 household rating, beating “Girlfriends,” the year-earlier occupant of the time period, by 53%.

In the targeted demos, “Payne” trounced “Girlfriends” by 56% in adults 25-54 and by 40% in adults 18-49. “Payne” shot ahead by 83% with women 25-54 and by 50% with women 18-49.

Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein’s Debmar-Mercury, the distributor, has cleared “Payne” in nine other test markets, many of which will start playing the half-hour in the next few weeks.

If the results on those TV stations are similar to WWOR’s, Debmar-Mercury will start syndicating the series nationwide to stations for fall 2007, adding as many as 32 new half-hours to the 10 already produced.

Perry has his own studio in Atlanta where he can tape the half-hours non-union at a cost of only about $500,000 an episode.

Perry was producer, director, writer and star of the Lionsgate-distributed theatrical “Madea’s Family Reunion,” which cost $6 million to produce and grossed $63.2 million in U.S. theaters earlier this year. Last year’s Perry theatrical “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” also from Lionsgate, cost $5.5 million and grossed $50.4 million. And Perry’s humor book “Don’t Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings” has become a bestseller.

Some of the other test stations for “Payne” include WCIU Chicago, WPHL Philadelphia, KTXH Houston, WBDC Washington, KTXA Dallas and WBFS Baltimore.

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