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‘Believe it,’ TBS says

Cabler orders 22 segs of CTTD's 'New Ripley's' series

NEW YORK — TBS Superstation outbid two broadcast network competitors to buy “The New Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” according to Barry Thurston, prexy of Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, which sold the show to TBS.

TBS bought 22 episodes of the series, an update of the program that ran on ABC from 1982-1986, with an option to buy additional seasons.

The weekly show will premiere on TBS in January 2000.

Thurston, who would not identify the show’s two broadcast network suitors that lost out to TBS, said CTTD favored TBS because the cable web agreed to commit to a full season of 22 episodes without even seeing a pilot.

Amazing feats

“The New Ripley’s Believe It or Not” will send correspondents around the world to report on amazing feats, facts and artifacts.

No host has yet been selected for the new show. Actor Jack Palance hosted the ABC series in the 1980s.

Jim Head, VP of original programming for TBS Superstation, said the cabler was hot to buy the series because it comes with an already established brand name and will provide TBS with ample marketing opportunities.

Turner message out

Head added that TBS’ purchase of the new “Ripley’s” will serve as a message to the creative community that the Turner web is willing to pay broadcast-network license fees for certain programs. Head declined to say how much TBS has agreed to pay CTTD for “Ripley’s.”

“It’s a significant statement that we competed with the over-the-air networks on a toe-to-toe basis and got the show,” Head said. “We’re spending the money it takes to deliver a quality show for our audience.”

Thurston said the sale of “Ripley’s” to TBS continued CTTD’s recent strategy of selling firstrun fare to cable. Under the direction of Russ Krasnoff, executive VP of programming for CTTD, the Sony-owned company recently sold “Oh, Baby” to Lifetime, “Rude Awakenings” to Showtime and “AXN” to the Fox Family Channel.

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