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Carey Tests Improv Skills on PPV

Showtime Event Television this month will distribute a rare comedy-based pay-per-view event featuring stand-up comedian Drew Carey.

Carey, the star of two ABC comedy series- The Drew Carey Show
and Whose Line Is It Anyway?
-will host a live, unedited improvisational comedy show Jan. 27, the night before the Super Bowl, said SET executive vice president of corporate strategy and communications Mark Greenberg.

In the 90-minute show, Carey and a team of comedians will perform unscripted, unrehearsed comedy skits. The performers will take their subject matter from suggestions from a studio audience and transform those ideas into comedic vignettes.

SET and Carey were in talks about the event for nearly a year before reaching an agreement, said Greenberg. The program is a rare foray into comedy for PPV, which is dominated by boxing, wrestling and music shows.

In fact, non-ring and non- music events represented just $8 million of the estimated $394 million generated from PPV events in 2000, Greenberg said.

However, the event does have some positive aspects for the industry. PepsiCo Inc.-owned snack food maker Frito-Lay is the show's primary sponsor and will tag its national advertising with promotions for the event, Greenberg said. The popularity and appeal Carey generates from his hit broadcast shows could also help generate strong PPV buy-rates for the event.

"It's certainly worthwhile doing, and we hope we can create a franchise with Drew Carey," Greenberg said. "If it is successful, it's something that we can build on over time."

The event will retail at a suggested $19.95 and will offer operators the traditional 50-50 PPV-event rate card.

Greenberg would not say whether SET has Carey under contract for future events.

However, he said the parties "have an understanding" concerning the development of future PPV programming.

In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York called the show a welcome change from traditional PPV event fare.

"In Demand eagerly welcomes this type of content to the PPV category," York said.

"We are fully supportive of it and are hopeful that it is successful and will nurture more comedy on PPV."