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New Lines renewals

New Line Television just locked up renewals for a third season of The Lost World, clearing 75% of the U.S. on such strong distribution outlets as the Tribune station group. That's impressive, considering how few current syndicated shows have officially earned new clearances for fall 2001. Among others are Twentieth's Divorce Court
and Power of Attorney
and Columbia TriStar's Judge Hatchett.

New Line might deserve an extra pat on the back. The Lost World
is not currently among the top tier of first-run action hours. Season-to-date through Dec. 31, it posted a 1.8 household rating, landing in 9th place among action series, according to Nielsen Media Research's household rankings. That performance is 5% below its rookie season mark (1.9).

Most likely, The Lost World
felt the competitive crunch from two of this fall's new entries: Andromeda
(3.7) starrring Kevin Sorbo and Gena Lee Nolin-headliner Sheena
(2.0). Also pacing ahead of The Lost World
are Stargate S-G1
(2.9), V.I.P.
(2.5), Beastmaster
(2.3), Earth: Final Conflict
(2.2) and Baywatch Hawaii

But bottom line? It's a good show," says David Spiegelman, New Line's executive vice president of domestic television distribution, pointing out that the series does grab fine scores on WPIX-TV New York (most recently, a 7.8 cumed rating, accounting for its double-run at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday).

Hype helps. Spiegelman says The Lost World's
two female leads Jennifer O'Dell and Rachel Blakely have gotten "a ton of press in FHM,Maxim
.we're generating a lot of heat with them."

In the series, Blakely portrays a member of an expedition team (other adventurers are Peter McCauley, David Orth and Will Snow) who become stranded in a mysterious land where dinosaurs rule. O'Dell plays a woman who is searching to find her parents.

To beef things up for future episodes, "we've hired all new dinosaurs," deadpans Spiegelman. "We've got much better dinosaurs on the show now."

Seriously, however, won't The Lost World
benefit next season from the loss of one tough action-hour rival, Xena? Its six-season original run will be ending this spring.

"Even though there will be one less competitor, there will always be a lot of competition," notes Spiegelman.

He also mentions that New Line will regularly face obstacles in the syndication arena, because the independent studio doesn't have an attached station distribution partner.

"But if it's a good program, the station will acquire it, people will watch it. People always find good shows," he adds.

For 2001, New Line is peddling a Lost World
companion hour, Hard Knox, which stars Melrose Place's
Thomas Calabro as a detective who falls for his boss, a championship female kickboxer/private investigator. So far, Hard Knox
has cleared 55% of the U.S.