Debmar-Mercury (DM), a subsidiary of movie maker Lionsgate, is bypassing Hollywood’s traditional output system and is using an innovative distribution model to put first-run syndicated sitcoms on TBS in 2007 and Fox-owned outlets in New York, Dallas, Houston and Washington, D.C. in 2008. Until now, sitcoms have gone to a network and then six years later there were 100 episodes to sell in syndication. Now talent and a profit participant can participate in ownership. Cable, rather than broadcast stations, gets the episodes first. Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein are co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury.
The first distribution deal for DM is “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” and is valued at $200 million. Perry has begun production on the episodes and is expected to deliver nearly 75 episodes to TBS by fall 2007, with the remaining 25 due in 2008. This is the first television work for Perry and expands his feature film relationship with Lionsgate (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion). Perry serves as director, producer, executive producer and writer, which will provide him with a large ownership stake in the series, about a multi-generational family living under one roof. It stars Allen Payne. Tyler Perry owns all the rights and we distribute it.
Perry is represented by the William Morris Agency, which structured the deal. Perry is also represented by Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf