Col makes ‘Building’ addition

Columbia Pictures TV is coming in as a production partner and distributor on the CBS in-house series “The Building,” a comedy from Bonnie Hunt and fellow exec producer and latenight host David Letterman.

The sitcom, starring Hunt and other “SCTV” alumni as a group of young Chicagoans in an apartment building, will be produced by Hunt’s Bob & Alice Prods. and Letterman’s Worldwide Pants Inc. in association with CBS Entertainment Prods. and Columbia.

The series has been projected as a summer tryout but could be held until midseason.

The agreement continues a strategic network-friendly approach adopted by Columbia, which has now cemented four such partnerships — two with CBS and one each with ABC and NBC. That game plan recognizes changes in the financial interest and syndication rules allowing the networks to increase in-house production but still requiring them to rely on a third party for domestic distribution.

Network-studio pacts help reduce upfront risk by defraying the cost of mounting a show, with each party receiving a smaller piece of potential back-end revenue. In light of the high failure rate of new series, officials at the Sony Pictures Entertainment division see that as a legitimate trade-off.

Columbia’s other network alliances include a pact with CBS Prods. and Cannon TV on “Walker, Texas Ranger,” in exchange for the services next season of exec producer Frank Lupo; a similar arrangement with NBC Prods. on its Bill Cosby mystery movies, to be overseen by producers William Link and David Black; and the fall ABC series “Moon Over Miami” (formerly “Do the Strand”), developed originally by Columbia but now a co-venture with ABC Prods.

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