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CBS gets in quiz biz with Brit hit ‘Lines’

Gameshow eyeing Feb. sweeps

The gameshow boomlet inspired by the success of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy of slowing down anytime soon, with CBS the latest net to announce a copycat quizzer.

The Eye has pacted with Celador Prods. — the U.K. brains behind the original “Millionaire” — on a deal for the U.S. format rights to Celador’s hit Brit gameshow “Winning Lines.” Stateside-based Stone Stanley Entertainment, producers of MTV’s “Loveline” and Comedy Central’s “The Man Show,” will produce a U.S. version of the show for CBS.

No host or debut date has been set, but CBS says the show could be on the air in time for February sweeps.

While the show will be changed for U.S. consumption, the Brit version of “Lines” starts with 49 contestants answering brainteaser questions, then quickly cuts that number down to six players who face off in a sudden death round of multiple-choice stumpers.

At the end of the game, one player is left to play a 3-minute “Wonderwall” round in which the contestant is bombarded with questions and has to find the right answer from dozens posted on a wall.

The Brit version has prize values ranging from $100 to a million bucks, with the latter prize requiring a successful completion of the Wonderwall round.

“The Wonderwall could end up being the most intense and exciting three minutes in gameshow history,” said CBS spokesman Chris Ender.

CBS Television topper Leslie Moonves didn’t try to hide the fact that CBS is trying to cash in on the gameshow mania.

“We’re jumping on the bandwagon like our competitors,” he said, noting that NBC, Fox and the WB all have gameshows in development.

Meanwhile, Fox Tuesday announced the first of what are expected to be several sked changes.

The much-buzzed about laffer “Malcolm in the Middle” will bow Sunday, Jan. 9 at 8:30 p.m. in the plum timeslot following “The Simpsons.” Its first three airings will be boosted by NFL playoff games airing just before the start of primetime.

“Futurama,” now airing in the slot, will take off a month, then return Sundays at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6.

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