Distribution for Griffin's Lets Play Crosswords

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Program Partners is expected to venture outside of the Canadian programming market for its first big first-run American venture, distributing Merv Griffin’s Let’s Play Crosswords word jumble game (B&C, Nov. 20, 2006; Jan. 8).

The push for the game show from the creator of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, is expected to begin Sunday on the eve of the National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Las Vegas.

Until now, Program Partners has been primarily focused on Canadian drama imports like Da Vinci’s Inquest and its procedural block, Crime Watch. It is also rolling out Degrassi: The Next Generation to U.S. stations for fall.

Still, one of its principals, Ritch Colbert, has a long history of selling game strips like The Joker’s Wild, Tic Tac Dough and Sale of The Century.

Griffin likely opted for a deal with an independent than a major studio because he can reap more of the upside coin if the show is a success.

Program Partners is not saddled with the huge overhead costs of majors like CBS Television Distribution, which is sitting out the fall with its two game shows, and could potentially make a decent return based on Crosswords’ production costs and potential clearances.