Mega moolah for ‘Men’

Tribune buys reruns of laffer

Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution has taken the first step toward harvesting a smashing $3 million per episode from “Two & a Half Men” by selling rerun rights to the Tribune Broadcasting TV stations.

The Tribune stations, led by WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago, will be able to start running the half-hour episodes of “Men” in the fall of 2007, as many as 12 times a week (during the first three years of the contract).

Warners will hold back three 30-second spots in each of two weekday runs for national advertisers, giving 11 to the stations for local sale. Warners and Tribune split the income from advertising time within the two weekend plays.

In a unique contractual clause, Warners will let each Tribune station stream five episodes of the sitcom on its Web site each week as a freebie to Internet surfers. The revenues from any advertising time within these Internet runs will be split between Warners and Tribune, and Robertson said other material will be added to the episodes, like outtakes and bloopers.

“We think the Internet part is a big deal for Tribune,” said Dick Robertson, president of Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution. “TV stations are eager to build up their Web business and exploit it.”

The Trib stations will have exclusive streaming-video rights to “Men” for three years, and then they’ll have to share the Web run with whichever cable network buys the rights.

Robertson is talking to various cablers. It would appear TBS is the likely buyer because it has cable rights to most of the major sitcoms, including “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.” TBS would get “Men” in the fall of 2010, sharing it with TV stations in syndication.

Tribune will probably take one of the daily runs of “Men” in the early evening, but Robertson said he doesn’t see the need for any heavy editing of the sexual double entendres. He cites two other Warner Bros.-distributed sitcoms bought by Tribune, “Friends” and “Will & Grace,” as not requiring much scissoring, despite some eyebrow-raising one-liners and sexual situations.

There’ll be 96 episodes of “Men” available to Tribune in fall ’07, and nine months will be added to Tribune’s contract for each additional year that CBS renews the series in broadcast primetime. If “Men” continues on CBS like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the series could rack up more than 200 episodes over nine years.

Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer star in “Men.” Chuck Lorre Prods. and the Tannenbaum Co. produce the series, in association with Warner Bros. TV.

Robertson engineered the deal with Jim Paratore, exec VP of Warner Bros. Domestic TV and president of Telepictures Prods. Tribune Broadcasting prexy John Reardon repped Tribune.