Inside Moves

Roth's no-name shingle inking output/equity deals

NEW YORK — The missing pieces of the Joe Roth puzzle are finally coming together.

Roth’s still unnamed company will not only have an output deal with Sony, a pay TV deal with John Malone’s Starz Encore Media Group and a broadcast TV deal with Fox, but each of these is also in final negotiations to become an equity partner in Roth’s shingle.

Roth is finalizing a press release with the specifics of the deals.

For Malone’s Starz Encore, this is the first time that the company has agreed to pay millions of dollars upfront to get exclusive pay TV rights to a lineup of theatrical movies. Starz Encore will officially announce the deal today, but it was reticent about commenting on the equity stake it will apparently take.

Sony Pictures, which will theatrically distribute the company’s movies, and the Fox Networks, which will hold exclusive broadcast-network rights to them, will also own stakes and pay money upfront.

Starz Encore apparently won out over HBO and Showtime because Malone was willing to lay out money in advance to help Roth’s movies get made.

Most theatrical-movie output deals with pay networks involve cash on delivery, with the payment based, at least in part, on how well the movie does in U.S. theaters.

The last time HBO agreed to pay money upfront was when it helped to create TriStar Pictures in the early ’80s. And a few years ago, Showtime entered into an output deal with Phoenix by agreeing to invest money to get that new company off the ground.

The Roth deal with Starz Encore runs for five years and could include as many as 30 pictures during that period. In a normal output deal, the paybox shells out an average of about $9 million a title. But the equity stake arrangement will change that average in this deal.

— John Dempsey

‘NYPD’ skedded for 2 shifts

ABC viewers will be feeling twice as “Blue” this summer — “NYPD Blue,” that is.

For the rest of the warm-weather months, Alphabet web has decided to air two repeat segs per week of the police drama: the usual 10 p.m. Tuesday installment and an extra encore episode Saturdays at 10 p.m. The first Saturday repeat is skedded for June 24.

Move makes plenty of economic sense for ABC. Networks usually have the right to run each episode of a given series at least twice over the course of a season. Ad revenue from the first broadcast generally covers the license fee for the skein; ad coin from the repeat is typically pure gravy.

ABC pushed back last’s season’s “Blue” preem to January, thus eliminating in-season repeats. The summer plan allows the net to haul in its extra ad coin while also airing all repeats of “Blue” in order.

Meanwhile, as expected, ABC has decided to sked an 8 p.m. Wednesday edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” opposite the second episode of CBS’ new “Survivor” (Daily Variety, June 2.) Thursday’s regular edition is being bumped for Stanley Cup coverage.

In order to avoid the one-two punch of “Millionaire” and “Survivor,” Fox has decided to pre-empt Wednesday night’s third edition of its new quizzer “It’s Your Chance of a Lifetime.” Show’s five-seg launch will now run through Saturday night.

— Josef Adalian and Michael Schneider

‘Girls’ gets top-down makeover

PHOENIX — If Fox greenlights the Jenny McCarthy sitcom “Live Girls” for midseason, it will be without creator Nancy Pimental.

The writer, who also has a burgeoning acting career and a slot as the new co-host on Comedy Central’s “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” has parted ways with the Littlefield Co./NBC Studios sitcom.

The network and producers are in the process of retooling the show, with the Littlefield Co. in talks with “Caroline in the City” creator Marco Pennette and “Dharma & Greg” co-creator Dottie Dartland to come on board as exec producers of the revised “Live Girls.”

The network has no immediate plans to announce its midseason orders; Fox Television Entertainment chair Sandy Grushow said he wanted incoming entertainment prexy Gail Berman to review the contenders before making a decision about which projects to pick up.

“We don’t have a clock, there’s no gun to our head,” Grushow said. “We’re going to go slower, and give (Berman) an opportunity to see what she thinks has real potential.”

Besides “Live Girls,” other sitcoms touted at the Fox affiliates meeting as strong candidates for midseason include the Carsey-Werner project “Grounded for Life,” a family comedy from Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, and Columbia TriStar’s “The Tick.” Previously announced comedy “Schimmel” is being retooled for midseason as well.

— Michael Schneider

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