'Standoff' special set for TV Guide Channel

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Marking a first for the network, TV Guide Channel said Wednesday that it's planning to air a special four-hour marathon of Fox's freshman drama series "Standoff" in a move intended to introduce the struggling series to more viewers.

The network is planning to air the first four episodes of the series, featuring Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt as hostage negotiators who are romantically involved, in a marathon from 3-7 p.m. Saturday. The two stars will host the marathon, which also will give viewers new and exclusive insights into the characters and the 20th Century Fox Television series.

TV Guide Channel president Ryan O'Hara noted that the arrangement is similar to previous promotional agreements the network has struck with Showtime for its series "Sleeper Cell," with NBC for its coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics and with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for this year's 78th Annual Academy Awards.

But the arrangement for "Standoff" is unique in that the full episodes will air on TV Guide Channel. By comparison, the agreement for "Sleeper Cell" called for the premiere to be streamed at TVGuide.com and available on-demand at TV Guide SPOT but not on the linear channel.

"We've been talking to broadcast networks and television studios about a concept where we would cover interesting shows and introduce those shows to our ravenous TV fans," O'Hara said, adding that the goal is to do something similar once every quarter. "The benefit for our channel is that we get to show really unique content and do a preview and review of shows for the fans, and the network and studio get the ability to either update people on the show or introduce a show to a whole new slew of people."

O'Hara added that it was determined during discussions with the network and studio to "laser in" on "Standoff." The low-rated series, executive produced by Craig Silverstein and Tim Story, returns to Fox with a new episode in its new time slot at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Fox's parent company, News Corp., owns a stake in TV Guide parent Gemstar-TV Guide International.
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