NBC-owned stations ink to pick up ‘Men’

Major markets bought out

NEW ORLEANS — NBC O&Os have snapped up multiyear rights to Columbia’s “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” bringing the clearances close to 50% of the country.

The group station deal combined with strong buzz means the show is almost certainly a firm go for the 2000-2001 syndie season.

Pact was inked late Monday on the eve of the opening of the annual NATPE TV trade show, in which new firstrun strips try to clear the majority of local stations across the country.

Top three markets inked

The one-hour strip, which is designed for daytime slots, has been cleared on NBC stations including the top three markets, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

“We needed to have a strong powerful group that believed in the project and would put the resources behind it that we’re going to put behind it,” said Columbia TriStar’s Distribution president Barry Thurston. “One thing they do better than anyone else is they market well and they promote well.”

Last year, the NBC stations picked up Buena Vista’s talker “Ainsley Harriott” which debuted this month in daytime. The station group plans to run both “Ainsley Harriott” and “Men” in daytime next season.

As in the “Ainsley Harriott” deal with BVT, NBC will not serve as co-producer on “Men Are From Mars.”

“We’re the producers, they’re the station group,” Thurston said.

‘Net component

NBC is interested in working on an Internet component for the show.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with them on one of our most promising new series,” said Steve Mosko, exec VP of sales at Columbia TriStar. ” ‘Men are From Mars’ offers stations a unique new programming concept in a lively format that is largely based on the age-old conflict between men and women.”

The series is produced by CTTD and Merv Griffin Entertainment and is inspired by the bestselling book by John Grey. Eleanor Mondale will take hosting duties while Griffin and Michael Roarke will exec produce.

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