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Tribune Lands Big DreamWorks Deal

Effective in 2006, Tribune Co. has acquired exclusive distribution and barter rights for DreamWorks SKG's feature-film library, which includes 34 titles that in total did $6 billion in box-office business, or an average of $183 million per film. The films include Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty, Gladiator and Shrek.

The immediate beneficiaries are Tribune stations themselves: The films will get plays in 22 major markets where Tribune owns stations and also on its cable channel, WGN Superstation, giving advertisers a wide window nationwide. An elated Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment, said he hopes the alliance leads to other collaborations with DreamWorks. Tribune probably won't put the package on the market until sometime in 2004, he said, but, even without other stations, "Tribune's station group adds a lot of market force to the studio."

Tribune Co. has rarely been in the film-packaging business, but the DreamWorks deal was an opportunity Askin jumped at pursuing. He made it clear that Tribune means to treat these films with kid gloves when, inevitably, they will have to be trimmed somewhat for television: "Who would dare edit one of Steven Spielberg's films?" The package of films has won 23 Oscars, including 11 in the so-called Big Five categories.

Oprah Has Strong Renewal Tally Through '08

King World has cleared The Oprah Winfrey Show for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons in more than 75% of the country. Renewing stations are part of the ABC, Hearst-Argyle, Belo, Cox, Post-Newsweek, Emmis and Viacom chains. Winfrey announced in May that she would continue her talk show through 2008; originally, she said she intended to step down in '06. By mid June, King World had already landed clearances in 60% of the nation. The show enters its 18th season this fall.

Jeopardy Winners Unleashed

King World is raising the stakes on game-show staple Jeopardy.
Returning champions can now play as long as they keep winning. For its first 19 first-run seasons, the show capped a returning champion at five days, although a Tournament of Champions was developed to decide a winner among winners. Now, to celebrate its 20th season, starting Sept. 8, there will be no limit on return visits (there will still be a tournament).

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