Inside Moves

'Clerks' checks out at ABC

“Clerks” is going out of business.

After just two airings, ABC has pulled the plug on the animated laffer based on helmer Kevin Smith’s feature of the same name. Repeats of “Spin City” will slide into the 9:30 p.m. Tuesday timeslot starting next week.

Miramax TV-produced “Clerks” failed to register with viewers, sliding from a weak 5.2 rating/9 share premiere on May 31 to an even more dismal 4.1/7 in its second outing this week. Among adults 18-49, Tuesday’s seg scanned a 2.8 rating, dropping nearly two full ratings points from its “Drew Carey Show” lead-in.

In addition to poor ratings, ABC execs have also had to wrestle with advertiser defections from “Clerks.” Show’s edgy content scared off several major sponsors, insiders said.

Smith has been vocal in his displeasure about how ABC skedded and promoted the skein, which was originally targeted for a midseason 1999-2000 bow. Miramax TV topper Billy Campbell was diplomatic Thursday, praising Smith and his team for their work and concluding the show simply “wasn’t right for ABC.”

— Josef Adalian

TW stock sale sends out shock wave

A block of 5.7 million shares of Time Warner Inc. changed hands Thursday in a $457 million deal, provoking a buzz on Wall Street as to the seller’s identity.

The trade comes with the entertainment giant on the verge of being acquired by America Online Inc. for $140 billion. Analysts said there are only about two dozen investors, including Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner, with enough shares to have sold a block of 5.7 million.

Recent speculation has portrayed Turner as being concerned about viability of the AOL buyout. Since the deal was announced in January, shares of Time Warner have fallen 13% while AOL shares are down 25%.

The trade was executed in midafternoon by Goldman Sachs & Co. for $79.50 a share, Bloomberg reported. Time Warner shares fell $3.75 to $80 with 11.2 million shares changing hands — more than double the three-month average — while AOL declined $2.875 to $54.

— Dave McNary

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