'Office,' 'Earl' find home on TBS, Fox


TBS has snapped up cable rerun rights to the critically acclaimed off-net comedies "The Office," from NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, and "My Name Is Earl," from Twentieth Television.

In addition, NBC Universal also has sold "Office" to the Fox Television Stations for its initial broadcast run in off-network syndication starting in fall 2009.

TBS' off-net rights to both series kick in in fall 2009. However, TBS also will be able to repurpose "Office" starting in the fall.

What's unique about the "Office" deal is that TBS will have the right to strip the series starting at the same time as the local TV stations. Generally, the stations have a window to air off-net series before they go to cable for a simultaneous run.

"Office" will debut in fall 2009 on the Fox owned-and-operated stations in top U.S. markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Orlando and Baltimore.

TBS' deals for "Earl" and "Office" also include digital rights. For "Earl," the network has digital rights for broadband streaming and on-demand, while the "Office" deal includes nonexclusive broadband streaming, on-demand and wireless rights to run concurrent with the off-network telecast rights.

With fewer off-net comedies coming down the pike as broadcast networks scale back on their comedy series, "Earl" and "Office" have been closely watched for months in the syndication industry.

The show will join other off-net comedies on TBS including "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Seinfeld," "Sex and the City," "Family Guy" and "Friends." TBS also airs the first-run syndicated comedy "Tyler Perry's House of Payne."

Both "Earl" and "Office" air on NBC on Thursday nights.

"Office," a remake of the British show co-created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, is heading into its fourth season in the fall. The series, from Universal Media Studios (formerly NBC Universal TV Studio) and Reveille Llc., stars Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak. "Office," which won the Emmy for best comedy series last year, is executive produced by Ben Silverman; Greg Daniels, who developed the series for American audiences; Gervais; Merchant; and Howard Klein.

"Earl," produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Amigos de Garcia, is heading into its third season in the fall. The series -- which stars Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee and Jaime Pressly -- is executive produced by creator Greg Garcia, Marc Buckland and Bobby Bowman.