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Just Shoot Me hits targets

Columbia Tristar's Just Shoot Me has just jolted the off-net syndication market.

Stations in the top three markets-New York, Los Angeles and Chicago-have picked up the farce, starring David Spade, which revolves around a fashion magazine with a libidinous staff.

New York's FOX O & O WNYW(TV), Los Angeles' Tribune-owned ktla and Newsweb-owned Chicago UPN affiliate WPWR-TV will roll out 102 off-net episodes of Just Shoot Me over a four-year period starting in 2001. Stations will air the series as a half-hour strip during the week and as a block or half-hour split on weekends. It's being offered with a 5.5/1.5 barter split.

As for the financial terms of the Just Shoot Me deals, sources estimated per-week episodes selling in the $80,000 to $100,000 range.

Entering its fifth season on NBC, Just Shoot Me was recently bolstered by the network's plans to move it into a comfy Thursday 9:30 p.m. slot. Earlier in the year, the series (which pulls a season-to-date 5.0 rating in adults 18-49) struggled in head-to-head Tuesday competition with ABC's Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? But it returned to form as the lead-out to Will and Grace.

Barry Thurston, Columbia Tristar's soon-to-be-departing president of syndication, believes NBC's scheduling maneuver will provide Just Shoot Me a nice boost of selling electricity.

"Television stations will say 'great, not only are the guys from Columbia coming in with four-and-a-half years worth of a show, but now I'm ensured that the show will be in the brightest spot on NBC and get the most attention,'" predicted Thurston.

Leading the Just Shoot Me charge, he added, "We are well ahead of everything else that's out there from a pricing standpoint. We are well ahead of all other shows currently being sold in the marketplace."

Other shows up for syndication next year are Twentieth TV's Dharma & Greg and Warner Bros.' Will and Grace.

Thurston is realistic, however. "I don't think we're ever going to see any show that is going to reach Seinfeld proportions," he said about another Columbia Tristar syndicated series.

While Thurston remains mum on his future plans, he sees the Just Shoot Me sales coup as a way to go out in style from his top post at Columbia Tristar. "You always like to go out on a high note. You like to win."