'Reno,' 'Chappelle' clear to go


MGM's domestic television distribution operation has cleared "Reno 911!" and "Chappelle's Show" in 18 markets, including the top three, for a fall launch in syndication.

The off-cable shows have been cleared in the top markets of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, which MGM said secures a national syndication launch for both programs.

In New York, MGM sold both shows to Tribune-owned WPIX, while in Los Angeles, MGM cleared "Reno" on CBS-owned KCAL and "Chappelle" on Fox-owned KTTV/KCOP. In Chicago, both series were cleared on Fox-owned WFLD/ WPWR.

The shows are being offered on an all-barter basis, with "Reno" set to run as a strip and "Chappelle," starring Dave Chappelle, cleared for weekend runs. Jim Packer, president of worldwide television distribution at MGM, declined to say whether the deals include double runs. He also declined to specify any markets outside of the top three for competitive reasons but did say that both shows have been cleared in nearly 40% of the country at this point.

Packer added that the shows are set to run primarily in late-night time periods, though some markets may run "Reno" in early fringe.

He said he's thrilled with the response to both shows thus far.

"We took these out only 10 days before NATPE (which took place Jan. 16-18)," he said. "It's not something that's been out since September that the stations could plan on. But we came to NATPE and felt strongly about them, and the stations responded. It's a testament to the strength of the shows."

He also praised John Bryan, executive vp broadcast strategy at MGM, for the quick turnaround, saying some deals were locked down at NATPE and some the following week.

The shows, off cable network Comedy Central, are syndicated by MGM through the studio's strategic relationship with New Line Television.