‘Andromeda’ clear for takeoff in 2000

Trib time-travels to secure syndie

Even though the new syndie season is barely under way, the following year is already being booked. Tribune Entertainment secured a comfy 60% national clearance this week for “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” for a two-year run on Tribune and Sinclair stations. The deal marks the first “firm go” for a new series in national syndication for fall 2000.

The sci-fi project, originally developed by the late creator of the “Star Trek” series, generated interest earlier this year after luring Kevin Sorbo, star of “The Adventures of Hercules,” away from Studios USA to play a starship captain fighting to restore order to the cosmos by aligning himself with a group of mercenary aliens.

According to Dick Askin, prexy and CEO of Tribune, the deal clears the program in 24 of the top 30 markets, involving all 22 Tribune stations and 38 stations owned by Sinclair. Among major-market broadcasters committing to the series will be WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles and WGN in Chicago. Tribune is distributing the weekly hour on a barter basis with an eight national/six local advertising split.

Early commitment

“Very few projects generate this amount of interest within the station community to warrant a ‘firm go’ more than a year from launch,” Askin said. “The Tribune and Sinclair stations recognize that the global popularity of Kevin Sorbo coupled with the success of Gene Roddenberry’s creative legacy is a premium opportunity to attract viewers and advertisers.”

Tribune began mining the Roddenberry vault in 1997, partnering with Majel Barrett Roddenberry to produce the syndie series “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict.”

Askin also said “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” would be co-financed by Toronto-based Fireworks Entertainment, which will distribute it internationally.

Series is being developed by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and will be executive produced by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Sorbo and Sorbo’s manager Eric Gold. Wolfe will co-executive produce.