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Program Partners brings dramas to Natpe

Distributor Program Partners will be introducing two new off-net dramas to programme buyers at Natpe, through its existing worldwide distribution agreement with Thunderbird Films.

Available for fall 2006, dramas Cold Squad and Stone Undercover join Da Vinci’s Inquest as part of the company’s long-term programming initiative, Crime Watch.

“The dominant trend in network television, and now in syndication, is the rapid growth of procedural crime drama blocks,” said Josh Raphaelson, principal of Program Partners. “With the success of Da Vinci and more off-net procedurals on the way, there’s a demand for compatible programming to expand these blocks in syndication in 06, and we’re meeting that demand with Cold Squad and Stone.”

Crime Watch was created to provide stations with a pipeline of new procedural dramas. The two series are designed to air in primetime on weekends, replacing down-trending movie showcases, or late-night on traditional affiliates, in horizontal or vertical stacks, as a news lead-out or to expand existing procedural drama rotations.

Broadcasters will commit to Crime Watch on a barter basis for an initial two-years, with preferred barter terms in year one. To give stations the programming and scheduling flexibility, Program Partners will provide Crime Watch affiliates a choice of satellite feeds, with two different episodes of Cold Squad and one of Stone Undercover available each week.

“The goal with Cold Squad, Stone and Crime Watch, over the long term, is to give stations the kind of programming punch that HBO and FX Networks get from their originals,” said Program Partners principal Ritch Colbert. “We’re expanding on what has worked with Da Vinci’s Inquest and offering stations something they can’t get anywhere else: new dramas that will be airing for the first time in their markets.”

Cold Squad is a one-hour procedural that features a strong female central character, Sgt Ali McCormick (Julie Stewart), leading a team of forensic investigators and pathologists who uncover and resolve long-abandoned and forgotten cases.

Stone Undercover is a one-hour procedural based on the exploits of a pair of commercial crime fighters. The series revolves around the relationship between Tom Stone, an ex-cop, ex-oil rig worker and ex-con who goes undercover, and Sgt Marina Di Luzio, his boss. Together they catch the bad guys who would normally get away – criminals with influence and money, who think they’re above the law.

The series stars Chris William Martin (Felicity, The L Word) and Janet Kidder (Earth: Final Conflict). The veteran creative team also includes Stuart Margolis (The Rockford Files, Touched by an Angel) as co-star and director.

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