TV’s ‘TMZ’ a hot seller

Half-hour show racks up sales

“TMZ,” the daily half-hour TV-series version of the celebrity news Web site, has racked up sales on TV stations in 80% of the U.S.

“We’re getting all two-year deals from stations at good license fees, in time periods that’ll range between 4 p.m. and midnight,” said Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution, which is handling the sale of “TMZ” to TV stations. The series premieres in September. All of the Fox-owned stations committed to the series at its launch announcement five weeks ago.

Warner Bros. will try to cover the cost of producing “TMZ,” whose budget will run close to $1 million a week, from two revenue sources: station license fees and the three 30-seconds of national advertising embedded within each half-hour episode. (TV stations get 5½ minutes for local ads in each episode.)

“TMZ” probably won’t cost as much as syndicated magazine shows such as CBS Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” and NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood” because it can call on the producers and reporters who gather stories for the companion Web site.

And since the TMZ brand is already well-known, Telepictures will be able to hire a non-celebrity host, who’ll cost a lot less.The series is a co-production of Harvey Levin Prods. and paraMedia in association with Telepictures. Levin, the managing editor of TMZ.com, is co-executive producer with Jim Paratore, founder of paraMedia.

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