‘Flipper’ to resurface with Pax Net splash

'60s hit gets 44 new episodes for family web

Paxson Communications will license 88 episodes of “Flipper: The New Adventures” from MGM Worldwide TV — 44 of which will be new chapters — for its pending broadcast web.

Deal gives family-skewed Pax Net a well-branded show for its Saturday evening slate and affords America’s favorite dolphin a new lease on life after its less-than-stellar mid-1990s revival.

“We’re confident of its success, having seen the producer’s cut of two shows. There’s a tremendous amount of action, and some excellent scripts with human drama involved,” Pax Net programming prez Bill Scott said.

Dorsal demo

“The success or failure of the last series was largely due to distribution problems. In terms of the demo Paxson is going after, ‘Flipper’ really fits Pax Net’s model,” said MGM worldwide TV prexy John Symes.

After three decades, ’60s kiddie icon “Flipper” was revived by Orion as a syndie series between 1995 and ’97, distributed first by Sam Goldwyn and in its second year by Tribune Entertainment; the Orion library has since been acquired by MGM. Scott said Pax Net is contributing script and production suggestions to the series, which like the previous round is produced in Oz by Village Roadshow Pictures TV.

Following Pax Net’s Aug. 31 bow, “Flipper” will lead off with the newly produced shows, but episodes from the mid-’90s series will be interwoven. “The deal gives us the opportunity of getting ‘Flipper’ up to an 88-episode series, bringing it in line with our other product like ‘Stargate’ and ‘Poltergeist,'” said MGM’s Symes.

MGM has worldwide rights to “Flipper,” which is set in the Florida Keys and stars Whip Hubley (“Top Gun”).

Sked tentatively set

Announcement follows Pax Net’s recent commissioning of another series, an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Men,” to be shot in Canada by California-based Brainstorm Media.

“Flipper” will screen Saturdays at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., in a slate that tentatively includes “The Walt Disney Magic Hour,” “Little Men” and “Neon Rider.”

Separately, Paxson Communications Corp. announced plans Tuesday to build full-power television stations in Lexington, Ky., and Wausau-Rhinelander, Wis.

Both stations will join Pax Net upon their completion. In addition, Paxson will maintain options to buy one or both facilities.

Including pending transactions, Paxson broadcasts from 88 TV stations in markets that collectively encompass 74 million TV households.