Pinched pipeline plagues Showtime

Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:25am EDT
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By Kimberly Nordyke and Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Can Showtime survive on a diet of "Dexter," "The Tudors" and "Weeds?"

That's the question the pay cabler faces as it comes to grips with the news that Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate have joined forces to launch a rival movie channel and video-on-demand (VOD) service under Viacom's umbrella.

Fortunately, Showtime has a little breathing room. Paramount's releases, from 2008 and beyond, will go to the new, yet-unnamed Viacom channel set to launch in September 2009, while MGM and Lionsgate's current supply deals with Showtime run out at year's end. But titles that already have gone to Showtime from the three companies will play into 2011.

Although Showtime has been emphasizing such original shows as "The Tudors" and "Weeds," it's not discounting the need for theatricals -- after all, Henry VIII had only six wives, and eventually "The Tudors," which has been renewed for a third season, will run its course.

Even though it's losing three major film suppliers, the premium service insists that there's plenty of options to flesh out the movie slates on its channels.

"Movies are still an important part of our schedule, and we expect as many first-run premium films on our air three years from now as we have on today," Showtime Networks chairman and CEO Matthew Blank said. "We have literally a dozen people already trying to sell us movies."

Blank said they include "independent companies and people operating other ways than through the studio system."

So who might they be?   Continued...

<p>Michael C Hall from Showtime's "Dexter" arrives at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 28, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>