Par, Newsweek Set Series

Paramount Domestic TV is teaming with Newsweek magazine and the Post-Newsweek stations to develop, produce and distribute a firstrun syndicated series based on the weekly newsmagazine.

The syndicator was mum Jan. 23 on rollout plans, but sources said they believe it will be targeted for a January 1996 launch as a weekly. If the show performs well, they suggested, it could become a strip by fall ’96.

Frank Kelly, president of creative affairs for the Par syndie unit, would only say the company “has a pretty unique way of introducing and rolling out this show.”

Kelly said Par will discuss marketing and creative plans for the series with stations after this week’s NATPE confab.

The project would pit Newsweek against Time Warner in the TV wars. Warner Bros.’ “Extra – The Entertainment Magazine” was originally intended to tap the resources of the conglom’s magazines. So far, the only evidence of cooperation is when reporters from People or Entertainment Weekly turn up on “Extra” to discuss their stories.

Since Par already is entrenched in access with “Entertainment Tonight” and “Hard Copy,” sources said it would likely steer the program toward early or late fringe dayparts – where it could be a news lead-in or-out – if it takes the strip route.

Post-Newsweek, meanwhile, has been aggressively trying to become an equity partner in a TV magazine series. It was one of the station groups investing in Buena Vista TV’s failing “The Crusaders,” the weekly advocacy syndie series.

In a last-ditch effort to save “Crusaders,” the Disney syndication unit has been shopping it to the networks. At last report, it was awaiting a decision from Fox.

Creatively, Kelly said the series “will reflect the spirit of the magazine,” but he emphasized that Par would not be “trying to make the magazine into a TV show.”

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