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Imagine's The PJs Loses WBTV As Production Partner

Warner Bros. Television has backed out of its partnership to produce THE PJS with Imagine Entertainment. The decision comes after the WB Network ordered 13 episodes for next season. Apparently, WBTV felt that the short order wouldn't cover costs, in addition to worries that the series wouldn't receive large amounts of money in off-net sales. However, Imagine has a potential partner in the wings Paramount. But there's a catch. Insiders say that Paramount wants syndication rights to all 56 episodes of the series. Once Paramount's parent Viacom finishes its purchase of BET, the Eddie Murphy-produced animated series would be a perfect fit on the African-American focused cable channel. This demand may kill the deal if Imagine can't convince WBTV and original PJS production partner Touchstone to share backend profits with Paramount until the two firms regain costs. Despite great reviews THE PJS has been plagued from the beginning. The series looked doomed after very high production costs scared off production partners, and original broadcaster Fox dropped the show from its line-up after two years on the network. The WB saved the series by picking it up this season, however the neighborhood apartment complex might get shut down and boarded up if Imagine can't find a new partner soon.

Read Animation World Magazine's interview with Mark Gustafson of Will Vinton Studios to glean the behind-the-scenes production process of THE PJS.

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Rick DeMott
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