Found money for `Lost World’

Sep 24, 2001  •  Post A Comment

With a new development and production company on board, New Line Television has pulled off an extremely complex trick given the current market conditions-escaping a near-collapse of its international backers.
After losing well-cleared series such as “Matthew Blackheart” and “Hard Knox” the past two selling seasons, the company almost lost its crown jewel, “The Lost World,” due to the financial problems of its international backers. But a barrage of meetings and negotiations finally opened up a door to allow for the continuation of the successful weekly series.
“Our bank stepped up, and we now have a partner that is not only behind us for year three but wants to do year four as well,” said David Spiegelman, executive VP, New Line Television. “The show looks too good for it not to be continuing, and we fought tooth and nail to keep it on the air.”
Over the Hill Gang, an Australian development and production company led by television veterans Peter Bergmann, Arnold Soloway and James Mitchell, has joined to produce the third season of the weekly series.
Helping to pay the bills will be sister company TNT, which will air the first two seasons of the series Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. (ET).
“Needless to say, announcing a third season of any series is an enormous accomplishment in today’s marketplace,” Mr. Spiegelman said. “We are also pleased about TNT’s decision to air the program, giving us an opportunity to increase awareness [by] reaching a broader and significant cable audience, which in turn will attract new viewers to the syndicated run.”
The company is now planning to expand its development roster with both weekly and stripped shows, although development executives will be selective in the process. “We’re not in the business of throwing something out there and seeing what sticks,” Mr. Spiegelman said.
Since its debut in September 1999, “The Lost World” has remained one of the top-rated syndicated action hours on television, delivering an average of 2 million households per week. Since last year, the series has shown substantive growth across all male demographics: men 18 to 34, up 25 percent from a 0.8 to a 1.0; men 18 to 49, up 22 percent from a 0.9 to a 1.1; men 25 to 54, up 20 percent from a 1.0 to a 1.2.
Last year, the bankruptcy of the Telescene Film Group in Montreal, one of the backers of the show, along with the failure to clear countries such as France, forced New Line to scramble to make up the missing greenbacks. As launch time approached, the inability to find those dollars threatened the show with cancellation.