'Nite' gives NATPE some early Flavor


On the eve of NATPE's 2009 Market & Conference, Flavor Flav and filmmaker Deon Taylor have inked a deal to turn their BET movie "Nite Tales" into an anthology series.

At the same time, syndicator Trifecta Entertainment & Media, headed by CEO Hank Cohen, has formed a joint venture with Dennis Ray's Star Media, which sells advertising time on syndicated series, specializing in the urban marketplace. The Flav-hosted "Tales" marks the first project to come out of the new venture, TriStar Media.

In other NATPE news, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is returning to broadcast syndication, and "Legend of the Seeker" has been renewed for a second season.

"Nite Tales," described as "30-minute tales of irony and twists," originated with the BET movie that aired on Halloween and is set for DVD release Feb. 3 by BET, Paramount and Deon Taylor Enterprises.

TriStar and DTE are co-producing the series and will look for a cable partner initially. Trifecta would take over distribution duties for a syndication launch. The parties are set to present "Tales," Trifecta's first scripted co-production, at NATPE, which kicks off today in Las Vegas.

"In forming TriStar Media with Dennis, one of the key objectives is to identify new and innovative properties," Cohen said. "Teaming with a talented filmmaker like Deon, with his extraordinary vision, imagination and energy, makes 'Nite Tales' the perfect launch project for the new venture."

Taylor describes the new show as "Tales From the Crypt" meets "The Twilight Zone," with Flav playing a role similar to "Crypt's" Cryptkeeper as he did in the BET movie. The show will have a Web presence, including an online contest Taylor is planning in which fans can name Flav's character.

"Flavor Flav is hilarious, but at the same time, the show is in the horror genre," Taylor said. "It's going to be very refreshing, a cut away from the norm of what's on TV right now."

Taylor said the show will be shot at his Sacramento-based soundstage. He is targeting a young audience that might not not know "Crypt" or "Zone" well, for whom "Tales" would be a new concept.

The plan is for "Tales" to premiere this year as a weekly cable series, with an immediate syndication window next year. In success, the parties said the show could follow an expedited production schedule so that, with the cable outlet as a partner, new episodes could be made available as a strip for subsequent years.

Taylor and Flav are set to executive produce with DTE's Roxanne Avent and former NBA player Mitch Richmond, a business partner of Taylor.

Taylor also is planning a "Tales" movie every Halloween, including one called "Terminated," written with Thomas H. Fenton ("Saw IV"), that is intended for theatrical release this year. Taylor's other credits include the feature film "Chain Letter," starring Nikki Reed.

Meanwhile, CBS Television Distribution has sold "Next Generation" as a strip to TV stations representing 83% of the U.S. for a fall launch. That includes 29 of the nation's top 30 markets, with stations owned by Tribune, Sinclair, CBS and LIN among those on board.

"Next Generation," created by Gene Roddenberry and produced by Paramount Network TV, debuted in first-run syndication in 1987 and aired for seven seasons, earning an Emmy nom for best drama series in 1994.

"Seeker," a first-run adventure series distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic TV and produced by ABC Studios, has been renewed on the Tribune-owned stations for a second season. The renewal represents clearances in 35% of the U.S., including seven of the nation's top 10 markets. Stations include WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago.

In other NATPE-related news, independent producer-distributor Entertainment Studios, run by Byron Allen, has named Melanie Adelberg head of acquisitions. She will seek high-definition content for the company's six targeted HD networks for Verizon's FiOS TV: Cars.TV, Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, MyDestination.TV, ES.TV and Recipe.TV.

Before ES, Adelberg worked in the Beverly Hills office of Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Prods. (partialdiff)