The dismantling of Artists Television Group has led to the premature death of the WB’s upcoming reality skein “Lost in the U.S.A.”
Frog execs officially pulled the plug on the show Monday, citing concerns that ATG would be unable to fulfill its financial commitment. Production partner Bunim/Murray Prods. was apparently not keen on assuming full control of the series.
In other ATG-related news, CBS Prods. is hammering out a deal to take over full financial control of the ATG-produced laffer “The Ellen Show.”
Eye already had a stake in the programming but is now working with ATG to take over ATG’s financial interest in the series. Pact won’t require CBS to make too much of an additional financial investment in the series, since Sony has agreed to give CBS Prods. the same distribution deal it had in place with ATG.
Under the terms of that pact, Sony advanced ATG roughly $350,000 per episode of a given series in exchange for international distribution rights to the program, as well as a cut of the domestic backend. CBS Prods. will now get that $350,000 to use to offset production costs on “The Ellen Show.”
CBS had been expected to ensure that “Ellen” would survive, with or without ATG (Daily Variety, Aug. 15).
Still up in the air is the fate of ATG’s two other series — the midseason laffer “Cedric the Coach” and the summer skein “No Ordinary Girl,” both based at the Frog. Insiders confirm Warner Bros. Television has passed on taking over financial control of “Cedric” but may still be interested in getting involved with “Girl.”
As for some of ATG’s overall deals, NBC Studios is close to taking over ATG’s development pact with Adam Chase (“Friends”).
With “Lost” history, the WB had to scramble to find replacement programming for the 7 p.m. Sunday slot. The solution: First-season repeats of the TBS reality skein “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” Frog made a deal with Columbia TriStar Television Distribution for multiple episodes of “Ripley’s,” which will bow Sept. 30.
The WB still plans to bow reality skein “No Boundaries” on Dec. 2.