MGM, Showtime re-up

TV series, film deal extends, expands thru 2003

MGM Worldwide TV Group and Showtime Networks Inc. have extended and expanded their long-term association, reaching an agreement in principle on a multiseries, multifilm programming commitment that takes their output deal through 2003.

Deal complements the existing production and licensing agreement originally entered into in 1993 that has found Showtime locking up exclusive premium TV rights to theatrical titles by MGM Pictures, United Artists and Goldwyn Films, and MGM TV’s creation of original series for the Viacom pay web.

That relationship has resulted in such Showtime series as “The Outer Limits” (now in its fourth season on Showtime) and the rookie “Stargate SG-1.” The new agreement finds Showtime doubling its “Stargate” episodic commitment from 44 to 88 episodes and signing up for fifth and sixth seasons of “Outer Limits” (for a total of 122 episodes). Showtime also holds the option of picking up 10 more “Outer Limits” segs that MGM is producing for syndication.

‘Gun’ re-loaded

Showtime also has ordered a second season of 22 episodes for the anthology “Dead Man’s Gun,” and the deal calls for an additional three-series commit-ment to MGM by Showtime. That calls for MGM producing two 22-episode and one 44-episode series that will premiere on Jan. 1 of each consecutive year beginning in 1999. Each series will have five concepts developed for consideration by Showtime.

Pact additionally mandates that MGM produce 10 more telefilms for Showtime over the next five years, bringing the total to 23 (including the remake of the classic “12 Angry Men”). Remakes of “Elmer Gantry,” “Inherit the Wind” and “The Children’s Hour” also are on tap.

Said MGM Worldwide TV Group prexy John Symes: “This relationship with Showtime has been productive for both companies. We’ve been able to grow along with Showtime from a programming standpoint.

Offsay praised

“If you look at what Showtime is today versus three years ago, it’s a significantly different service. The quality of its series TV and TV movies has been upped significantly, and it’s now working with people who had previously only done business for HBO. That’s a testament to (Showtime Networks prexy) Jerry Offsay’s energy and tenacity in making it work.”

Offsay praised the company’s partnership with MGM, adding that it has “enabled both companies to evolve as leading providers of original programming.”