Skip to main content

Learning to share

NBC's relationship with start-up network Pax TV has already come full circle. Mysterious Ways, a dark new drama previously slated for Pax TV's fall schedule, will make its national television debut later this month-on NBC. The move is designed to bring more original summertime programming to NBC and also help promote Pax's fledgling lineup.

"This is sort of another step in our partnership," says Paxson Communications President and CEO Jeff Sagansky. "We have been getting programming from them like (canceled NBC game show) Twenty-One and movies, which we will continue to do. I'm sure there is more series programming coming from them down the road. But when you are at a network like ours or NBC, you want as many shots as you can."

Mysterious Ways, produced by Lions Gate Television, was developed for NBC two years ago, but the network passed on it. NBC, which now owns 32% of Pax TV and has made a number of joint programming moves with the start-up network in recent months, felt the project might have legs at Pax and brought it to Sagansky last year. Returning the favor, after seeing the first two full episodes last month, Sagansky brought the sci-fi drama Mysterious Ways to NBC programmers in early June, and they liked what they saw.

The rest, as they say, is synergy.

The series, starring Rae Dawn Chong and Adrian Pasdar, is made on a Pax TV budget (roughly two-thirds the cost of an NBC show). It will debut on Monday, July 24 on NBC, which will show six episodes with options to carry more. Pax has ordered a half-season (13 episodes) and will launch it on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

The move to air the series on both networks is just the latest step by NBC to air a prime time series on multiple outlets. Earlier, NBC angered affiliates by agreeing to broadcast new series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on USA Network, too. NBC at one point said it would rebroadcast the Nightly News With Tom Brokaw on Pax but backed away from that idea. The network otherwise has encouraged affiliates to set joint sales agreements with (JSAs) with Pax outlets.

But the Mysterious Ways joint-custody deal may strike some NBC affiliates oddly. "I think the show is aptly named," said a general manager at an NBC affiliate." We thought it was interesting that we had not heard about it at all. ... This came from way out in left field.

"We're not too fond of the idea. I make it a habit to avoid purchasing syndicated projects that have cable windows, because I don't think it's good business. But unfortunately I think it's the wave of the future."

Pax also now airs a Saturday-night prime time block of NBC Sports-produced pre-Olympic events. On July 14, 17, 20 and 21, it will carry live coverage of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team trials from Sacramento-for the first time.