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The quiet force in action

and Xena
may have garnered the majority of headlines over the past several years, but Stargate SG-1
has quietly become a force in the action-hour genre.

The MGM-distributed series has more than held its own in four seasons in syndication and has just been renewed for two years on all the Fox O&Os.

MGM is also said to be working on a spin-off that could wind up on cable, in syndication or both next fall. Sources say the working title to the next series is Stargate: Atlantis. Studio executives weren't commenting.

Stargate SG-1
is a player in both cable and syndication. It is currently in its fifth season on Showtime, which gets the original episodes first; local stations get each season a year after they air on the cable network. MGM executives say the sixth season, which will be on Sci Fi Channel next fall instead of Showtime, will be its last.

This season, Stargate SG-1
is the second-highest-rated action series in syndication, tying Andromeda
with a 2.7 average household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Newcomer Mutant X
is on top thus far, with a 3.0. For the week of Nov. 5-11, Stargate
was No. 1, averaging a 3.0, followed by Andromeda
and Mutant X, tied with a 2.9.

"The show continues to perform at levels that justify this kind of renewal," says MGM Domestic TV Executive Vice President Jim Packer about the Fox deal. "It's performed really well during the current November sweeps and is leading the action-series pack."

MGM Domestic TV is also developing a pair of potential syndication or cable series for next season: half-hour reality/court series Twisted Justice
and action series Spartacus. Packer says the studio is mulling distribution options. MGM previously had deals with Showtime and local stations for Poltergeist
and Outer Limits.

"We take these properties to market by looking at pay, basic and free TV, and we try to figure out the best situation for each one," says Packer.