CanWest Media takes NBC Uni product

Jumps gun on Los Angeles Screenings

TORONTO -- Buying ahead of the Los Angeles Screenings, Canadian broadcaster CanWest Media has acquired the new "Knight Rider" series along with a slew of other NBC Universal product.

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

CanWest also renewed NBC Universal series including "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 between the Canadian broadcasters compelled them to view all new network pilots at the Los Angeles Screenings before completing deals with studio suppliers.

Ron Suter, senior vp and GM at NBC Universal Television Distribution Canada, said that his studio's deals with CanWest stemmed from preliminary meetings where they decided to "get out in front" of the competition.

The NBC Universal-CanWest deal also dispels any notion that the Canadian broadcasters will be shy buyers at the Los Angeles Screenings, where they are expected to view fewer and shorter pilots this year.

CanWest bought the new "Knight Rider" series based on a TV movie/backdoor pilot and the pedigree of its executive producers: David Bartis ("Heist"), Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") and Gary Scott Thompson ("The Fast and the Furious").

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.