Lionsgate distributor to test syndication waters

Lionsgate’s wholly owned distributor Debmar-Mercury is planning a January test of the syndication marketplace for a TV simulcast of “The Tom Green Show,” currently a Web-only nightly talker.

“Tom has created an environment that delivers fresh, unscripted, engaging conversation” every night at 11, “churning out 150 hours since the series went up on the Web a year ago June,” said Mort Marcus, co-president of Debmar-Mercury.

Green produces the show out of a living room-cum-studio in his Hollywood Hills home.

“We’ll start the process in the next few weeks to try to get between five and eight TV stations to agree to take the ‘Green Show’ for about two months at the beginning of the year,” said Ira Bernstein, also co-prexy of Debmar-Mercury.

Marcus and Bernstein are looking for latenight time periods, preferably 11 p.m., focusing on TV stations affiliated with the Fox network, the CW or MyNetworkTV.

TV stations signing up for the experiment would pay no cash license fees and keep all 14 minutes of commercial time in each hour. In exchange, the stations would agree contractually to guarantee a specific number of promotional spots to make viewers aware of the series.

William Morris, which brokered the deal, chose Debmar-Mercury because it successfully engineered a 10-station test for “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” sitcom for two weeks early this year. The “Payne” test led to a deal with TBS for a double run of the series starting four months ago and with TV stations, led by many of the Fox O&Os, for five-a-week simultaneous plays with TBS from next September to August 2012.

If the ‘Green Show’ works in January and February, the test stations get first dibs on the series, which Debmar-Mercury will clear for latenight next fall. In the current strategy, the deal will call for no cash license fees from stations. But Debmar-Mercury will hold out seven minutes in each hour to sell to national advertisers.

The distributor will also allow stations to rerun each episode on their websites.

Guests on Green’s Internet show have included Pamela Anderson, Val Kilmer, Carson Daly, Bob Saget and Brooke Shields.

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