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CBS Prods., Reader's Digest pact for minis

CBS Prods. has inked a three-year deal with the Reader’s Digest Assn. to produce and distribute telefilms and miniseries based on the magazine’s articles.

Much like the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie franchise, the new telefilms will carry the Reader’s Digest brand under the banner of “From the Pages of Reader’s Digest” or “Reader’s Digest Presents.”

“The Reader’s Digest name alone immediately conjures the idea of relatable and compelling personal dramas,” said Nancy Tellem, president of CBS entertainment.

Under terms of the deal, CBS Prods. will develop, produce and deficit finance the Eye web telefilms and will retain all domestic and international distribution rights, as well as rights to music and merchandising. Reader’s Digest will retain print publication and videocassette distribution rights, while CBS will get a portion of the profits from cassette sales.

Also built into the pact is a cross-promotional agreement. The magazine will run promos for CBS movies, while the net will air direct-response ads for telefilm videos.

CBS Prods. movie and mini VP Michael Wright, who reports to CBS longform topper Sunta Izzicupo, will shepherd the Reader’s Digest projects. CBS will be allowed to choose from the entire library of the mag’s articles.

Reader’s Digest will assign an executive producer to each project, and the magazine also will receive a six-figure sum from CBS for the exclusive use of the Reader’s Digest brand.

“Teaming up with CBS will both extend our reach and build on the bedrock strength of the Reader’s Digest brand,” said Christopher Willcox, editor in chief of the magazine and senior VP of the Reader’s Digest Assn.

The Reader’s Digest deal is just the latest in a series of Eye efforts to build CBS Prods. into a viable and prolific TV studio. Earlier this season, CBS created a complex formula requiring telefilm producers to cede domestic distribution rights. CBS also produced or co-produced all but one of the new series it ordered for its fall schedule last year.

CAA brokered the Reader’s Digest deal.