omg! Yahoo, 'Access' team

Bow celeb portal; syndie 'Deal' eyed

Yahoo is launching a new celebrity-oriented Web portal in a partnership with the syndicated newsmagazine "Access Hollywood."

Meanwhile, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, which handles "Access," and Endemol USA are expected to move forward with a syndicated version of the hit game show "Deal or No Deal" — which would be hosted by Howie Mandel — for all 2008, sources said.

The "Access"/Yahoo site, to be known as omg! — blog shorthand for "oh my god!" — is expected to be announced today. "Access" will provide video programming to omg.

The new portal is being positioned as a competitor to Time Warner's fast-growing TMZ.com, which dishes celebrity gossip nearly 24/7. In a reverse of the Yahoo/ "Access" strategy, WBDTD is taking the "TMZ" brand to syndication in the fall, having sold it to Fox-owned TV stations. TMZ is overseen by AOL and Telepictures.

The omg site represents the first significant content collaboration with Hollywood to come out of Yahoo in quite some time. After Yahoo appointed former ABC programming chief Lloyd Braun as head of Yahoo Media Group in 2004, the company was supposed to get aggressive in the entertainment space. But after several false starts, Braun was tossed out in December, and Yahoo has made only modest additions to its programming mix since.

"Access" also is expected to beef up its own Web site, AccessHollywood.com, in the fall, adding a social networking component among other changes.

As for "Deal," it has been rumored for months that NBC Universal and "Deal" producer Endemol were looking to bring a half-hour version of NBC's hourlong primetime show, also hosted by Mandel, into syndication.

In addition to Mandel, several names had been speculated as potential hosts, including Arsenio Hall and Mark Curry, but sources said Mandel is expected to host the syndicated version of the game show as well.

NBC Universal and Endemol declined comment on "Deal."
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