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WB Sets Reality Series in Case of Strike, 03.21.01 ...

The WB hopes to get real in time for a potential strike.

Speaking to advertisers at the netlet's pre-upfront development presentation, WB Entertainment co-prexies Susanne Daniels and Jordan Levin said the WB has picked up enough "strike proof" programming, including a slew of reality skeins, to last through next winter if necessary.

"Is there going to be a strike? Nobody knows. But people are saying it's likely," Levin said. "If there is, we're going to be prepared."

The weblet will have a number of scripted series in the can, including 13 more episodes of "The Steve Harvey Show" and "For Your Love," as well as additional episodes of "Baby Blues" and the new drama "Dead Last."

Daniels and Levin said they would continue to air repeats of frosh laffer "Nikki" (which also has four additional episodes ordered as a strike contingency) and drama "Gilmore Girls."

Also, the netlet has licensed the rights to the international editions of "Popstars," including the British and Australian versions. WB execs said the network could utilize those editions in the event of a strike. The U.S. edition of "Popstars" is also on tap to return.

As for reality series, the WB has already ordered four: "Elimidate Deluxe," from sister distributor Telepictures (Daily Variety, March 5); "No Boundaries," from ConnQuest Prods. and Lion's Gate (Daily Variety, Nov. 20); and "Lost in the USA," from ATG and Bunim-Murray.

In addition, the net previously ordered the reality pilots "That's Incredible" and a hidden camera show starring Jamie Kennedy.

The WB would also add a two-hour movie night, culling titles from the Turner and Warner Bros. libraries.

Speaking about next fall, the co-prexies said "Roswell," "Popular," "Jack & Jill" and "Grosse Pointe" remain "on the bubble." Meanwhile, sources say the fate of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" could be determined as soon as next week.

The exclusive negotiating period between the WB and 20th Century Fox TV expired at the end of last month, but they remain locked in talks over renewing the demon drama. The WB has offered $1.6 million an episode, as well as a two-year pickup for "Angel," among other perks, to keep "Buffy." Fox has been looking at a number closer to $2.3 million-$2.5 million. Although both sides have so far not publicly wavered from those numbers, sources say compromise may be in the air.

Daniels and Levin reiterated the weblet's stance that the network could survive should it lose "Buffy."

"We're still in the middle of negotiations," Levin said. "We're optimistic they'll work out. (But if it doesn't), we're a young network, and we have to embrace change. If it comes down to it, we're comfortable to bet on our development."
Credit: Variety

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