‘Farscape’ finds a home

Distrib sells skein to top markets at NATPE

LAS VEGAS — Debmar Studios, the distributor run by Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, has sold its “Farscape” reruns to TV stations in eight of the top 10 markets.

That was the word from Bernstein, who said the deal, which includes the Fox O&Os in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, “gives us the momentum we need to come out of the NATPE convention in solid shape.”

“Farscape,” produced by Jim Henson, had a four-year run on the Sci Fi Channel and developed a rabid following of devotees who organized massive email campaigns when the network canceled it.

The Fox stations are likely to pair “Farscape” with another off-Sci Fi Channel show, MGM TV’s “Stargate: Atlantis,” in a two-hour block on the weekends.

Debmar has signed two-year deals with stations, who do not pay cash license fees. Instead, stations give seven minutes within each one-hour run to Debmar for sale to national advertisers.

As a sign that cable is becoming more important as a source of programming for TV stations, “Farscape” and “Atlantis” are in effect replacing the firstrun syndicated action hours that such distributors as Tribune Entertainment (“Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” “Mutant X”) used to commission for these timeslots. For the first time in memory, Tribune will introduce no new action hours at a NATPE convention.