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‘Fat Actress’ preem to Yahoo! in heavy promo

Web surfers get sneak peek of comedy skein

NEW YORK — Millions of visitors to the Yahoo! TV Web site will be able to watch for free the complete first episode of Showtime’s forthcoming comedy series “Fat Actress,” starring Kirstie Alley, simultaneously with its Showtime premiere.

Yahoo! has never before offered an entire episode of a TV series through streaming video, said a spokeswoman, adding that the Web portal will make “Fat Actress” available from 10 p.m. March 7 through March 12.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to get the word out about ‘Fat Actress’ and get as many people to sample that first episode,” said Bob Greenblatt, president of entertainment for Showtime.

Pay cabler has yet to create a breakthrough original series that can swell its subscriber base beyond the 12 million or so who buy the network. Through a mix of series hits such as “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” and big-budget theatricals, HBO has grown to reach about 28 million paying customers.

In addition to the Yahoo! plan, Greenblatt said Showtime has scheduled a multimillion-dollar ad campaign including ads in Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone and billboards in key cities.

Showtime has commissioned seven half-hours of “Fat Actress,” an edgy, knockabout comedy that deals with an overweight performer “looking for love and work in an unforgiving industry.” Alley co-created the series with Brenda Hampton.

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