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July 7, 1992, Tuesday

650 MTM hours to Nick at Nite

Paula Parisi
The Hollywood Reporter

In what the company president terms its largest MTV Networks acquisition, Nick at Nite has picked up exclusive rights to 650 hours of MTM series programming in a two-pronged deal that will also see the two entities developing original programming together.

Industry sources placed the licensing deal in the $ 40 million range, with the development deal being separate, though jointly funded. Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne, who announced the deal Monday at the Television Critics Association Tour in Century City, declined comment on its financial terms, as did MTM Enterprises chief operating officer Tim Buxton, who was on hand at the Century Plaza Hotel.

The exclusive acquisition spans five years per series, with availability windows beginning at different dates.

The first show to go on the air will be "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," debuting Sept. 12 on Nick at Nite with an all-day "Mary-Thon." "The Bob Newhart Show" is expected to appear on Nick next year. Also included in the deal are "Rhoda," "Phyllis," "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "Newhart" and "The Betty White Show."

Laybourne said she isn't concerned about changing the firmly established Nick at Nite image, which at the moment could best be described as 1950s camp, with more comtemporary programs. The deal runs through 2003, and by that time the Nick at Nite look will have "evolved."

For his part, Buxton said MTM was pleased that the shows would be packaged on a single channel, where they would be "looked after" in what amounted to a curatorial manner by TV's self-appointed historians.

Nick at Nite will have one less evening beginning Aug. 15, when "Snick" hits the airwaves. As previously announced, Saturday Night Nickelodeon, or "Snick," will fill a two-hour primetime block beginning at 8 p.m. with "Clarissa Explains It All."

Making its public premiere will be the new series "Roundhouse," which looks like it will give the Disney Channel's "The New Mickey Mouse Club," previously unchallenged in the kids variety category, a run for its money. Like that show, "Roundhouse" combines comedy skits with music and dance numbers.

With the popular "The Ren & Stimpy Show" as well as the debut anthology series "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" Laybourne said she expects Nick's first foray into

primetime to double the typical Nick at Nite ratings for that period, which would put it at about a 1.

MTM spinoff stars Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, of "Rhoda" and "Phyllis" fame, respectively, were on hand along with honorary Nick at Nite chairman Dick Van Dyke for the announcement.

Also on the podium were "Clarissa" star Melissa Joan Hart, former "In Living Color" writer turned "Roundhouse" creator Buddy Sheffield and "Ren & Stimpy" mastermind John Kricfalusi.

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