CanWest up to Par

Network Ten inks primetime series pact

SYDNEY — CanWest’s Network Ten has inked a five-year deal with Paramount for all U.S. network TV primetime series from 2004.

In 2003 Ten will share existing series with the Nine Network, whose two-year, full output contract with Par recently lapsed.

The Ten-Par deal includes new product from Paramount, Spelling, Viacom Prods and Big Ticket, but it doesn’t include Par movies, which are still on the market.

The deal is another indication that foreign TV buyers are rethinking the terms of output deals with the Hollywood majors to ensure they get what they want — but avoid having to take too much material.

Ten CEO John McAlpine said, “This arrangement accommodates our view that feature films are declining in value and recognizes the audience demand for premiere series on free-to-air television.”

Deal stipulates that Ten acquires only the series that meet “minimum requirements,” but neither side would reveal what those requirements are.

Managing director of Par TV’s local rep in Australia, Sean Cleary, said, “We haven’t done anything like this before, and I don’t think any other studio has.”

Under the terms of its previous contract, Nine has the pick of a drama and a sitcom from the recent L.A. Screenings. Ten will have rights to the remaining new drama and three new sitcoms launched.

Ten programmer David Mott said Par product unveiled at the Screenings was the best it’s been in the last three years. Ten programs for the 16-39 demo, so “the product they have been producing (18-49 demo) makes good sense for us.”

Ten’s current lineup includes “Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS); “NYPD Blue” and “The Simpsons” (Fox); “Dawson’s Creek,” “The Guardian” and “Just Shoot Me!” (Columbia TriStar); and the three “Law & Order” franchises (Universal).

Elsewhere, Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network has inked with Mel Gibson’s Icon Film Australia for rights to all feature films including “We Were Soldiers,” “Gosford Park,” the John Travolta-Samuel L. Jackson thriller “Basic,” the Rob Schneider comedy “Harv the Barbarian” and an upcoming Gwyneth Paltrow project.

Pact matches the exclusive alliance between the Nine Network and the new Hoyts Distribution shingle, owned by Kerry Packer’s private company Consolidated Press Holdings.

Hoyts’ slate includes “Monster’s Ball,” “Van Wilder,” “Carolina,” “The House of Sand and Fog” and “Bulletproof Monk.”