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Sci-Fi picks ‘Prey,’ fires up ‘Brimstone’

WB TV shows get 3-year license term on cabler

NEW YORK — The Sci-Fi Channel, searching for unusual programming buys to refresh its primetime schedule, has picked up two broken series from Warner Bros. TV, “Brimstone” and “Prey.”

“Buying programs like these gives us a chance to rest some of our firstrun series for a while,” said Bonnie Hammer, senior VP of programming for the Sci-Fi Channel, referring to “Farscape,” “First Wave” and new episodes of “Sliders,” three fresh hours that have pulled solid young-male-demo ratings on Friday nights.

Although Sci-Fi and Warner Bros. TV declined to comment on prices, one source said the channel will pay only about $40,000 an hour on a three-year license term for the 13 hours each of “Brimstone” and “Prey,” compared to an average of $500,000 that a cable network would have to pay for a successful broadcast-network series.

Hammer said Sci-Fi will premiere “Brimstone” by stunting it with back-to-back episodes for the first three Friday nights in December. It will then come back as a weekly series early in 2000, to be joined by “Prey” later in the year.

“Brimstone,” which ran on Fox last season, features Peter Horton as a bounty hunter for Satan “trying to recapture souls that have escaped from hell.”

“Prey,” which played on ABC during the 1997-98 season, stars Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) as a scientist who discovers a “mutated form of humanity” burdened with “a voracious appetite for humans.”