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Par to close Big Ticket

Lyttle exit leads studio to absorb prod'n co.

HOLLYWOOD — Paramount has pinkslipped Big Ticket TV.

The production shingle, responsible for skeins such as syndicated megahit “Judge Judy” and UPN laffer “The Parkers,” will be folded into the mother ship in the coming months.

Concurrently, Big Ticket founder-president Larry Lyttle, who had a year left on his deal, has opted to leave the company.

Lyttle said Big Ticket will wind down operations in the next three to four months, probably shuttering by October. The company’s syndie shows (“Judy,” “Judge Joe Brown”) will move under Paramount Domestic TV, while Paramount Network TV will take over primetime skeins “The Parkers,” CBS’ “Hack” and the WB’s “Jamie Kennedy Experiment.”

Viacom Entertainment Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen and Paramount TV Production prexy Garry Hart said the decision to shutter Big Ticket came after Lyttle decided to call it quits — but that the studio had also been looking at new ways to streamline its operations.

It made sense to announce the closing of Big Ticket now, before the new development season began, Lyttle said.

Still unclear is the fate of Big Ticket’s 35 employees. Some of the production company’s staff likely will move to Paramount, while others have job offers elsewhere, Lyttle said.

“Because this has been so amicable, Paramount really emphasized to me that they’ll be taking care of everyone here,” he said. “I leave with a great sense of satisfaction, although I’m sad that the company is not going on without me.”

Lyttle originally launched Big Ticket as a sitcom-centric subsidiary of Spelling TV in October 1994. (The shingle’s name was a play on the logo for Spelling’s then-parent, Blockbuster.)

Viacom later bought Blockbuster, including Spelling/Big Ticket, and Par took on oversight of Big Ticket last year after the departure of Paramount TV Group topper Kerry McCluggage prompted a round of corporate restructuring.

Beyond the company’s current crop of shows, Big Ticket also was responsible for long-running skeins such as UPN’s “Moesha.”

“We applaud and congratulate Larry for shepherding such a prolific and financially successful company,” Dolgen said. “He has been a very valuable part of Paramount and Viacom. Larry has also been both a great friend and a great colleague and has contributed to our success in a significant way.”

After nine years running Big Ticket — and a 25-year-career as a seller that included stints running Spelling TV and developing for Warner Bros. TV — Lyttle said he was looking forward to a break.

“I want a third act to my career,” he said. “It was inevitable that I wanted to do something else.”

Lyttle said the recent deaths of two close friends gave him the impetus to take stock of his life. The exec said he hadn’t yet determined his next leap –but it won’t be as a producer.

The exec said he wouldn’t rule out political consulting as a future career.

“I’ve sold TV shows for 25 years. At a certain point and time you say, you’ve done it,” he said.

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