November 28, 2007

"I Love Lucy" Series Bought by Hallmark Channel

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hallmark Channel has completed one of its biggest series acquisition deals, nabbing rights to "7th Heaven," "Cheers" and "I Love Lucy" along with additional episodes of "Matlock" and "Touched by an Angel," all from CBS Television Distribution.

The deal also includes rights to 12 holiday movies, including "Finding John Christmas," "Town Without a Christmas" and "When Angels Come to Town."

"7th Heaven" will be the first of the three newly acquired series to come available to the network, where it will be ready to launch as early as January, while "Cheers" will become available later in 2008 and "Lucy" in January 2009. The deal includes rights to all episodes of all three series.

Hallmark senior VP acquisitions and programming Michelle Vicary said the plan is to run the three series in Monday-through-Friday strips. Executives also are considering weekend runs.

Vicary said the shows will appeal to Hallmark's regular viewers -- the baby boomer audience -- and attract the "occasional" viewers who tend to tune in primarily for the network's original movies. She added that the shows will complement Hallmark's other acquired series, including "M*A*S*H," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Murder, She Wrote."

"All (three) shows are what you think of when you think of Hallmark Channel," she said.

Hallmark and CBS declined comment on the financial terms of the deal.

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