ABC nabs rights to German mini 'Impact'

Sci Fi buys second window to disaster drama

COLOGNE, Germany -- ABC has acquired the U.S. TV rights to "Impact," a four-hour miniseries produced by Germany's Tandem Communications, Jaffe/Braunstein Entertainment and Muse Entertainment and sold by Tandem.

NBC Universal's Sci Fi Channel has picked up second-window rights to the disaster drama about a meteor that strikes the moon and sends it on a collision course with Earth.

The $14 million production, licensed internationally by Tandem, stars David James Elliott, Natasha Henstridge, Steven Culp and James Cromwell and is directed by Michael Rohl ("Eureka").

ABC is expected to air it in the summer as a limited series.

" 'Impact' is an ideal acquisition for Sci Fi's weekend-movie franchise," said Thomas Vitale, the network's exec vp programming and original movies. "A high-caliber disaster-genre film with such a stellar cast is a recipe for success for Sci Fi."

Sci Fi has a strong track record with Tandem shows, with the futuristic tale "Lost City Raiders" and fantasy epic "Ring of the Nibelungs" having scored ratings gold for the channel.

The sale to ABC is a high-water mark for Tandem, which has carved a niche in high-end TV events by combining international financing with U.S.-bankable casts and scripts. "Impact" was presold to Germany's ProSieben, France's TF1 and Spain's Cuatro before shooting began. The mini also recently inked a deal with Japanese pubcaster NHK, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has acquired U.S. video rights.

"We have focused on nurturing relationships with U.S. broadcasters, and the sale of 'Impact' to ABC is a home run for a European independent," Tandem managing director Rola Bauer said.

Bauer's company is positioning itself as a one-stop shop for U.S. and international broadcasters, expanding its scope to development, financing, production and worldwide distribution. Tandem hopes the strategy will become increasingly attractive as channels in the U.S. and abroad cut back on production costs.