USA Net promotes pic synergy

Co. ready to become promotion partners with studios

NEW YORK — USA Network is putting the word out to the Hollywood community that it’s eager to help the studios with on-air promotion of theatricals it pre-buys for the exclusive network/cable window.

“We’re ready to become promotion partners with the movie companies,” said Jane Blaney, senior VP of program acquisitions and scheduling for the USA Network.

USA has to scramble to buy early-window theatricals because it’s at a disadvantage compared with its main cable net competitors, TBS, TNT and FX: USA is not as umbilically tied to Universal as AOL Time Warner’s TBS and TNT are to Warner Bros. and New Line, and News Corp.’s FX is to 20th Century Fox.

The example Blaney refers to as a model for promotional stunting is a New Line movie that TBS took a pass on, the forthcoming “All About the Benjamins,” an action-comedy with Ice Cube.

As part of its deal with New Line to buy “Benjamins,” Blaney has agreed to film special wrap-arounds with Ice Cube threaded throughout USA’s scheduling of “Friday” and “The Players Club,” two other New Line movies starring the rapper/actor.

USA will time these scheduling stunts for January 2002 to coincide with the theatrical release date of “Benjamins.”

“Friday” “always delivers solid ratings every time we run it,” said Blaney. Presumably, she continued, the sizable audience for “Friday” would be interested in the latest Ice Cube theatrical, and the better “Benjamins” does at the box office, the better it’s likely to do when USA gets its hands on the title in the fall of 2004.

USA has also bought the network window to “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next,” the New Line sequels starring Ice Cube.

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