Col adds two firstrun syndies

Columbia Pictures TV Distribution announced Monday that it will syndicate “The Newz,” the latenight strip from former Viacom firstrun prez Michael Gerber and producer James McNamara, as well as the CBS latenighter “Forever Knight” (Daily Variety, Jan. 24).

Three Col series

The additions will give Col three firstrun shows for fall, the other being the returning frosh hit “Ricki Lake.”

“The Newz,” which is targeted for the 18-49 age group, features an ensemble cast performing comedy sketches that parody recent events in the news.

The distribution deal will pit Col against MCA TV’s Brandon Tartikoff series “Last Call,” another light news strip designed for latenight slots.

Col plans to deliver six nights per week on a straight barter basis, with the studio and stations each retaining 3 1/2 minutes of advertising. National ad time will be sold by Col TV Advertiser Sales.

“We’re looking to expand our 18-49 franchise to latenight,” said Alan Perris, senior VP of firstrun programming for CPTD. The weekly hour “Forever Knight” is also pitched as counter-programming for latenight time periods.

Sources say the syndicator is in serious discussions with Chris-Craft Television concerning a group deal for “The Newz.” Chris-Craft and Celebrity Entertainment (the production firm headed by McNamara and Gerber) previously entered into a first-look deal.

Moving “Forever Knight” from network into firstrun syndication had been expected since David Letterman jumped to CBS.

Paragon Entertainment, which produces the show in association with Germany’s Telemunchen and TriStar TV, will begin production on 26 new episodes in March.

Col is marketing the series on an all-barter basis. The syndicator and stations will each get seven minutes to sell.

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