'Mother' reruns nest at Lifetime

5:00 AM PST 09/24/2008 by Kimberly Nordyke, AP

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Lifetime has snapped up exclusive cable rerun rights to "How I Met Your Mother" from Twentieth Television.

The half-hour comedy is set to air as a strip starting in fall 2010, joining a schedule that includes such off-net comedies as "Reba," "Still Standing," "Will & Grace" and "Frasier."

Both parties declined comment on the financial terms of the deal, but sources said "Mother" fetched around $725,000 per episode in a highly competitive bidding situation that included at least six interested cable nets. It was considered a hot property because of the diminishing number of off-net sitcoms coming available.

"Mother's" per-episode fee seems in line with other recent high-profile off-net comedy sales to cable. it falls between FX's purchase of "Two and a Half Men" in 2006 ($750,000 an episode) and TBS' licensing of "The Office" last year ($650,000).

Lifetime's four-year licensing deal includes up to eight seasons of "Mother," should the CBS comedy run that long. "Mother," co-starring Neil Patrick Harris, had a big fourth-season bow Monday, up 21% in the ratings over last season.

JoAnn Alfano, Lifetime's new executive vp entertainment, said "Mother" is a good fit for the network's lineup. "It's fresh and contemporary," she said. "There are not a lot of shows out there that are right for us, so it was really important to go after this."

She added that "Mother" could serve as a launching pad for new original series.

"For me, to be able to develop like sitcoms with this kind of voice is exciting," she said. "The direction we want to go in for acquisitions is to not only allow us to fresh up our comedy block but also launch original series."

"Mother," from 20th Century Fox TV, is exec produced by Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Pamela Fryman. (partialdiff)
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