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Hollywood Notes

Oct 29, 2001  •  Post A Comment

FremantleMedia teaming with Tribune
FremantleMedia Ltd. is undergoing massive restructuring, having formed a strategic alliance with Tribune Entertainment that will focus on program distribution, development and first-run production in the United States. As part of the deal, Tribune will now distribute game show strips “Family Feud,” “To Tell the Truth” and rookie “Card Sharks.” In addition, FremantleMedia will release nearly 50 employees from its distribution, research, marketing and ad-sales divisions, including Joe Scotti, president of distribution and marketing for FremantleMedia North America.
Terms of the multifaceted agreement, effective Nov. 1, are designed to present major strategic advantages to both companies. Tribune will now exclusively oversee all domestic distribution, barter sales and marketing activities for all first-run programming. Additionally, FremantleMedia and Tribune will present future projects to one another for possible development, with subsequent mutually agreed upon programs to be jointly co-produced and co-financed by the two organizations.
FremantleMedia, one of the world’s largest program producers, will now focus its North American operation on the company’s core business-the development and production of long-running programming brands. The former distributor will continue to produce “The Price Is Right” for CBS as well as “Family Feud,” “To Tell the Truth” and “Card Sharks,” and will develop new program concepts for Court TV, the Food Network, Pax, VH1, the Game Show Network and others. FremantleMedia North America also will continue managing its licensing operation. Mr. Scotti, who many in the industry credit for keeping Fremantle (formerly Pearson Television) at the forefront of the syndication business during his tenure, will continue to work with the company during the transition.
WB picks up comedies
After three weeks of strong young demo rating returns, The WB has given nine-episode back orders to its three freshman comedies-“Reba,” “Maybe It’s Me” and “Raising Dad”-to carry each of them to a full-season complement of 22 episodes. On Friday, Oct. 19, The WB’s lineup, which includes “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” ranked first for the night in teens (3.1 rating/14 share), females 12 to 34 (2.8/11) and female teens (5.0/21), according to Nielsen Media Research national data. The WB also picked up its Tuesday 8 p.m. (ET) drama “Smallville” for nine more episodes, taking it to the full 22-episode order from series producers Warner Bros. Television and Tollin/Robins Productions.
`Alias,’ `Undeclared’ among pickups
ABC gave full-season extension orders for freshman series “Alias” and “According to Jim.” Both shows, which are produced by ABC Television Entertainment Group’s Touchstone Television production unit, received nine-episode back orders, taking them up to a full 22-episode order..
Among other networks making full-season pickups last week, NBC announced back-nine orders for its 10 p.m. Monday drama “Crossing Jordan” and 9 p.m. Sunday drama “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” while Fox extended its 8:30 p.m. Tuesday freshman comedy “Undeclared” for a full 22-episode order as well.
Duffy upped at King World
King World Productions promoted “Ananda” and “Curtis Court” executive producer Mary Duffy to the newly created post of vice president, production and development, East Coast. Prior to her new appointment, Ms. Duffy was senior executive producer for King World’s new daily syndicated talk series “The Ananda Lewis Show,” which debuted last month in more than 90 percent of the country.
UTA hires Gradinger
In the wake of Michael Ovitz’s Artists Television Group shuttering its TV network production, United Talent Agency has hired business affairs veteran Gary Gradinger to head the agency’s business affairs department. Mr. Gradinger, who served as ATG’s senior VP of business affairs, will fill the post vacated by longtime UTA business affairs head Gail Fanaro, who has been promoted to the expanded role of general counsel for the Hollywood-based talent agency.#