CanWest crashes the party

Canadian firm pacts with NBC Uni for package ahead of L.A. Screenings

Canadian broadcaster CanWest Media has acquired the new "Knight Rider" series and a slew of other NBC Universal product ahead of the Los Angeles Screenings.

Other CanWest pickups from NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution include the Christian Slater drama "My Own Worst Enemy," the dysfunctional mother-daughter comedy "Kath and Kim" and the spinoff of "The Office."

CanWest also renewed the NBC Universal series "House," "Heroes," "The Office," "Friday Night Lights," "The Biggest Loser" and "Life."

Tuesday's deal marks a break from years past, when a gentleman's agreement among Canadian broadcasters compelled them to view all new network pilots at the Screenings before completing deals with studio suppliers.

Ron Suter, senior vp and GM at NBC Universal Television Distribution Canada, said the deals stemmed from preliminary meetings at which the companies decided to "get out in front" of the competition.

The NBC Uni-CanWest deal also dispels any notion that the Canadian broadcasters will be shy buyers at the Screenings, where they are expected to view fewer and shorter pilots at this year's edition, set for May 15-23 in Century City.

CanWest bought the new "Knight Rider" series based on the TV movie/backdoor pilot and the pedigree of executive producers David Bartis, Doug Liman and Gary Scott Thompson.

CanWest also bought boldly because it has to fill the schedules of 13 cable channels recently acquired from Alliance Atlantis Communications in addition to its Global Television and E! broadcast networks. (partialdiff)