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HOLLYWOOD — To drum up more business, upcoming syndie “We the Jury” is willing to work pro bono on the weekends.

Its indie distributor Telco is offering a free weekend episode of the gaveler, where stations get to retain the entire commercial inventory and pay zilch in license fees.

Right now, only 60% of the country has signed on to air “We the Jury,” initially intended as a Monday-Friday strip, come fall 2002. Show also still lacks a critical New York home.

Telco hopes that stations who fall for its pitch will eventually take “We the Jury” in its half-hour strip form as well. At that point, Telco would keep the typical 50% of the show’s ad revenue for itself, leaving the rest for the stations. But the hour-long weekend play will stay free, at least through the 2002-03 season. Those already on board for the daily run of “We the Jury” can pick up a free weekend episode, too.

Will lose money

Alex Paen, Telco’s prexy, is well aware he’ll lose money on this maneuver to support his effort, where regular people serve as jurors, deciding cases based on real events.

“We know we won’t be financially successful in the first year, but we really believe in this project,” he said, adding that a lot of studios, even the majors, deficit spend on productions in the beginning.

Few distributors, however, serve up no-cost shows. Twentieth Television won station clearances by providing free plays of its rookie “Texas Justice” but only for a four-month period.

Chambers Communications is co-producing “We the Jury,” with Paen and Bill Grundfest (“Mad About You”) executive producing.