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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
October 10

Entertainment News October 10 - TOP 3 STORIES for Wednesday

ALSO ON SITE

TERMINATOR 4 COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU!
By MICHAEL FLEMING Hollywood Reporter

After producing 'Terminator 3,' Warner Bros. had first dibs on the fourth pic, which aims to reinvent the franchise.Warner Bros. has acquired North American distrib rights to "Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins," triggering an early 2008 production start for a film that seeks to reinvent the cyborg saga with a storyline to be told over a three-pic span.

WB plans to distribute "Terminator Salvation" in summer 2009.

The Warner deal dashes MGM's hopes of corralling distribution rights to the film. The Lion planned to pepper its slate with tentpoles such as "The Hobbit" and "Terminator," but neither project has worked out for the distributor.

Halcyon sued MGM in July in Los Angeles Superior Court, claming the distrib was interfering with its distribution plans on the fourth "Terminator" film on the basis of an MGM claim that it had acquired an exclusive 30-day negotiating window.

The "Terminator" pic franchise got a new lease on life in spring, when privately funded Halcyon and its co-CEOs Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson teamed with "Terminator 3" exec producer Moritz Borman to acquire film, merchandising and licensing rights from ex-Carolco partners Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar. Kubicek, Anderson and Borman are producing the new film, with Peter D. Graves as exec producer.

WB had first right of negotiation for domestic theatrical and TV distribution rights because the studio played the same role on 2003's Jonathan Mostow-directed "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." That pic posted a domestic gross of $150 million and a worldwide total of $427 million.

The producers said that the new film will carry the size and scale of "Terminator 3," and will have an event-sized budget. It will likely be less than the $200 million pricetag of "Terminator 3," which was saddled with extravagant costs that included above the line payouts, rights payments and heavy fees incurred through a complex financial structure.

Warner Bros. is also producing a smallscreen "Terminator" adaptation, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," for Fox's midseason sked.

NBC UNIVERSAL BUYS OXYGEN FOR $925 MILLION
By MICHAEL LEARMONTH variety.com

NBC Universal's $925 million acquisition of femme-focused cabler Oxygen promises to shake up the cable landscape - both inside and outside the Peacock.

Internally, Oxygen will give NBC U more breathing room for its increasingly crowded cable exec suite. Bravo topper Lauren Zalaznick and USA/Sci Fi prexy Bonnie Hammer could each make a strong case to head the cable unit, and the addition of a shiny new net will make it easier for recently upped NBC U cable/digital content prexy Jeff Gaspin to expand the portfolios of both execs.

Outside the NBC universe, the Peacock's prowess at pumping up cable nets - it transformed Bravo from an also-ran to a trendsetter - means femme giant Lifetime may finally have some real competition, though it could take years for Oxygen to become a true player. Last quarter, Lifetime had four times the number of viewers 18-49 as Oxygen, according to Nielsen.

Oxygen, born in the froth of the Internet bubble in 1999 as a partnership among former Nickelodeon chief Geraldine Laybourne, Oprah Winfrey and Marcy Carsey of Carsey-Werner Co., will be added to NBC U's cable properties including Bravo, USA Network and Sci Fi. Conglom also owns women-targeted Web portal iVillage.com.

Laybourne, who has been Oxygen's CEO, will remain with the Gotham-based net until the end of the year, when NBC U chief exec Jeff Zucker will announce new management. Acquisition of the cabler, one of the few remaining independent properties, furthers Zucker's stated strategy of expanding into high-growth areas of media while limiting exposure to mature businesses like broadcast TV. Indeed, NBC U said it would sell two Telemundo-owned stations to help finance the deal.

``Cable is really the core competency and strength of NBC U, and we believe it's a real growth area for us,'' Zucker said.

Gaspin was recently elevated to head all of NBC Universal's non-NBC television assets, including cable, Telemundo, digital and syndication.

``Gerry has agreed to stay until the end of the year, and we will make further announcements before then,'' Zucker said.

The long-rumored deal expands NBC U's cable portfolio, which accounts for 50% of NBC Universal's profits, and will allow the company to create what Zucker called a ``virtual network'' of female-skewing properties including Oxygen, Bravo, iVillage and ``Today'' that can be sold to advertisers.

``We will go to market with a suite of assets unmatched in the female demographic, but they will all remain strong, independent brands,'' Zucker said.

NBC U has some practice integrating cable properties. NBC bought Bravo for $1.25 billion in 2002 and then integrated USA and Sci Fi after the merger of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment in 2004.

In 2006, NBC Universal snapped up another product of the dot-com boom, iVillage, for $600 million, and has had mixed results. Synergies through ``Today'' have proved elusive, and the syndie daytime skein ``iVillage Live'' has been a ratings flop.

TBS SCORES ALL-TIME RATINGS HIGH WITH BASEBALL COVERAGE

TBS slugged a grand-slam game-winner with its first-ever carriage of postseason baseball, scoring the best week ever in its 31-year history.

The network's exclusive coverage of baseball's divisional series catapulted TBS into an average total-viewer primetime audience of 5.3 million people, which was almost double the viewership for second-place ESPN (an average of 2.8 million) among ad-supported cable networks for the week of Oct. 1 to 7.

Focusing on primetime games, and contests that spilled over into other dayparts, TBS' coverage of the division series ended up with 26% more total viewers than last year's comparable coverage, shared by ESPN and the Fox network. Similarly, TBS harvested substantial double-digit gains among people 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 for this October's games compared with those of last year.

"We could not be happier with the ratings for our coverage of the MLB division series," said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. TBS ponied up $1.05 billion for the rights to these postseason games (which include a sharing of the League Championship Series with Fox) and some Sunday regular-season games, all part of a seven-year deal that runs through 2013 (an average of $150 million a year).

Six of the seven highest-rated shows for the week in ad-supported cable were baseball games on TBS, led by the 8.46 million viewers who watched the third game in the Yankees-Indians series. (ESPN chalked up the most-viewed show of the week, 11.8 million for the Oct. 1 NFL game between the Patriots and Bengals.)

TBS begins its coverage of the National League Championship Series on Thursday between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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