TV deals increase ahead of NATPE

"Katie" cleared in 93% of markets; pacts for int'l skeins sealed

Even before NATPE opens its doors, deals are being made.

When they want you, they want you: “Katie” is cleared for 93% of the country, according to the latest figures from Disney-ABC Domestic TV distribution.

Disney-ABC Domestic topper Janice Marinelli said she hoped the show would fill the void in the daytime sked left by Oprah Winfrey. “You always felt like you were going away (from ‘Oprah’) with some information that you didn’t have,” Marinelli said. “‘Katie’ is going to be live five days a week, so if there’s something going on in the country or on the news, we’ll be able to talk about it.”

The hourlong yakker is cleared in 95 of the top 100 markets and will likely look to clean up a few deals while at NATPE this week. The show, produced by former NBCUniversal prexy-CEO Jeff Zucker, is skedded for a September premiere.

In other pre-NATPE news, FremantleMedia Enterprises and Mattel are partnering with Cartoon Network Latin America on “Max Steel,” a CGI cartoon based on the Mattel toy line and produced by animation studio Nerd Corps Entertainment.

Comedy/adventure toon follows a superpowered teenager partnered with a self-aware alien machine. It’s been the subject of eight telepics and a previous CGI series produced by now-defunct Netter Digital. Most recently, “Twilight” thesp Taylor Lautner agreed to star in the character’s bigscreen debut for Paramount, though he reportedly moved on in 2010.

The toys, while largely unknown in the U.S., are popular abroad — especially in South America — making the show a likely candidate for the newly international NATPE, which boasts a large Latin American presence now that it’s in Miami.

Fremantle will bring the show to the confab this year; the deal with Cartoon Network Latin America gives the 26 “Max Steel” half-hours distribution in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Electus has acquired international distrib rights for three Spike TV series in time for the TV industry confab: “Flip Men,” “American Digger” and “Car Lot Cowboy,” all unscripted skeins airing on the guy-centric cabler. Electus also produces freshman skein “Cowboy.”

“Flip Men” has been airing on the net since October of last year; “Digger” and “Cowboy” are set for March and April, respectively.

The international offerings rep exactly the kinds of pitches that NATPE’s move to Miami is tailored to facilitate. With several American cablers basing their international offices in Miami, cablers have been coming to the conference since last year in search of deals that expand into territories in South America, Central America and Mexico.