- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

‘Men’ in syndication

CBS’ smash sitcom “Two and a Half Men” has hit the syndication threshold.

Tribune Broadcasting has licensed syndication rights to the hit comedy from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, with the sitcom’s off-network debut set for the fall of 2007, Reuters news agency reports.

The deal covers the entire run of the series, which returns to CBS for its fourth season this fall.

The Tribune station group, which licensed “Men” on a cash-plus-barter basis, also will double-run the show on weekdays for the first three years; two additional episodes will air on weekends. Moreover, stations will have the right to stream five episodes of the series each week on their Web sites free to viewers.

“This is the first mega-hit sitcom since ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ and we got a deal that is according to that kind of show,” Warner Bros. Domestic TV President Dick Robertson told Reuters. “They’ve bought the show for the whole network term. This is no short-term deal or barter-only. It’s the exact same template as ‘Friends’ and the first show to be sold like that in a long time.”

“Two and a Half Men,” starring Charlie Sheen as a swinging bachelor and Jon Cryer as a divorced, uptight brother who moves in with his 10-year-old son, was the top-rated sitcom in prime time last season, averaging more than 15 million viewers a week.

Tribune executive Marc Schacher said the online component of the syndication deal is “a great opportunity for us to get our feet wet” and see what additional opportunities arise as a result. But, he added, the show was appealing on its own merits.

“We’re in the sitcom business, and as you know there’s not that many impact sitcoms left out there on the networks,” Mr. Schacher said.

Neither Warner nor Tribune would comment on the financial terms of the deal.

Wolf’s ‘Wounded Knee’

HBO is teaming up with “Law & Order” impresario Dick Wolf to make a film about the plight of American Indians during the 19th century, Reuters reports.

The HBO Films project is based on the best-selling book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West,” by Dee Brown.

The nonfiction book, first published in 1970, is an account of how American Indians were displaced as the United States expanded west. It uses council records, firsthand accounts and other resources to tell the story of “the systematic destruction of the American Indian” during the latter half of the 19th century.

Mr. Wolf is executive producing “Wounded Knee” with Tom Thayer, whose previous credits include the made-for-cable film “Faith of My Fathers” on A&E; and the USA Network series “Kojak.”

Yves Simoneau, an Emmy-nominee for producing the pilot of USA’s “The 4400,” has signed on to direct “Wounded Knee” while Daniel Gia — who received an Emmy nomination for writing HBO’s “Path to War” — will pen Mr. Wolf’s screenplay.

Mr. Wolf’s “Law & Order,” which debuted on NBC in 1990, has received 11 Emmy nominations as best drama series, taking home the award in 1997.

Closing the ‘Book’

Viewers may be more interested in summer reading than a reality show about summer reading. So CBS is pulling the “Tuesday Night Book Club” from its schedule after two low-rated episodes, Associated Press reports.

The June 13 premiere drew about 5 million viewers, with a scant 4 million tuning in for the second airing. In contrast, reruns of CBS’ popular “CSI” crime drama franchise are drawing more than 11 million viewers.

“Book Club,” which followed the lives of the members of a book club in Scottsdale, Ariz., will be replaced by reruns of “48 Hours Mystery.” No word, though, on whether the show’s six remaining episodes will air.

• Compiled by Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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