MGM Partners With New Line

Oct 9, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios has made a two-year deal with New Line Television to handle U.S. domestic distribution and future barter sales for New Line’s motion picture packages and series programming.

David Spiegelman, senior executive VP of domestic television distribution and marketing for New Line Television, will continue to oversee the development and production as well as acquisition of syndicated programming. He will also continue to distribute all New Line products to network, pay, basic cable and video-on-demand/pay-per-view outlets.

Under the terms of the new alliance, Mr. Spiegelman will work in tandem on syndication sales for New Line TV products with MGM’s Atlanta-based Executive VP of Broadcast Strategy John Bryan.

New Line initially distributed in-house the show “Masterminds,” the half-hour Court TV crime series that premiered in syndication two weeks ago. MGM will assist New Line TV with second-year renewals for “Masterminds” and also take over syndication responsibilities for the show, according to New Line Television President Jim Rosenthal, who announced the deal Friday with Jim Packer, president of worldwide television distribution for MGM.

“We had a small group, which has all but been disbanded,” Mr. Rosenthal said.

New Line is a division of Time Warner, which also is home to one of the largest television distribution operations, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Time Warner also has one of the largest producers of syndicated programs through its Telepictures Productions. Mr. Rosenthal said he decided to partner with MGM because that company’s strategy and library is more similar to that of New Line and therefore was just a better fit.

“We’re playing in a different place than Telepictures,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “Together with MGM and us, we can make a difference in that place. The market is tough, the market is seemingly getting tougher. By aligning with MGM we bring more heft to the market.”

“The reality is, this is something that works for both companies,” Mr. Packer told TelevisionWeek Friday by phone from the MIPCOM programming market in Cannes, France. “It’s a great opportunity for us to leverage our distribution operation.”

Mr. Packer, who is in the process of ramping up MGM’s television business, declined to reveal financial details of the deal. MGM does not have any other similar deals in the works, but, “There’s a chance we could have others like this if they are strategic, and make sense for us and are complementary,” he said.

In addition to “Masterminds,” New Line TV owns the most recent iteration of “The Twilight Zone,” which aired on UPN, and the first-run action hour “The Lost World,” both of which are “resting” and will not be cleared in syndication soon, Mr. Rosenthal said.

“At the moment we’re looking for more product, and some of that may come from third parties,” he said.

In terms of the New Line TV movie packages, “we haven’t identified any specific films,” Mr. Rosenthal said, noting that company’s most profitable feature film franchise, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “doesn’t have any availabilities, but things change all the time.”