ABC keeps good karma with ‘Dharma’

Laffer's timeslot could decide length of stay on net

HOLLYWOOD — “Dharma & Greg” have renewed their network vows: Despite a lengthy and sometimes contentious renegotiation, laffer producer 20th Century Fox TV has signed a new multi-year deal at ABC.

Terms of the pact were not immediately available, but sources say the Alphabet web has picked up at least one more year of the sitcom, and possibly two, depending on where the series ends up on ABC’s sked next fall. Show’s new license fee also depends on the show’s upcoming slot.

Sources said 20th Century Fox TV had attracted offers from NBC and CBS for the Jenna Elfman/Thomas Gibson comedy, but in the end the studio opted to keep the show on its incumbent network.

Battle ready

As early as last January both 20th and ABC execs were preparing for a potential battle over the show, currently in its fourth season (Daily Variety, Jan. 10) As recently as last week, both sides remained far apart over “Dharma & Greg’s” license fee, which hovered just north of $900,000.

Twentieth was looking for a substantial boost, while ABC noted that the sitcom has been in decline this season. Season to date, “Dharma” has averaged a 5.3 rating among adults 18 to 49, vs. 6.9 last year and 12.4 million viewers, down vs. last year’s 15.2 million.

The “Dharma” deal comes a week after the studio struck a deal with UPN to move the drama “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” from the WB for $2.3 million an episode. Some observers believe the “Buffy” network swap made it more likely that “Dharma” would stay put, so that 20th wouldn’t move two series in one season. Others suggested that anything was possible, given 20th’s decision to move “Buffy” over economic issues (a first in modern TV history).

Twentieth and ABC quietly wrapped up a renewal deal for “The Practice” with little or no hype last December.

Other questions

Still up in the air: the fate of the CBS military drama “JAG.” Although it’s more than likely that Viacom sibs CBS and Paramount Network TV will come to a deal, sources nonetheless say both sides are still far apart over “JAG’s” price tag.

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