Friday, November 06, 2009

"The Mentalist" sold into syndication at TNT

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The Simon Baker crime drama "The Mentalist," which just began its second season on CBS, has netted a rich off-network syndication deal with TNT.

The cable network will start airing reruns in fall 2011.

The show is said to have fetched more than $2 million an episode, a broadcast-series record, but neither TNT nor syndicator Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution would comment.

"The Mentalist" was the top new series last season, and has been a solid performer this fall in its new Thursday 10 p.m. slot.

But the economic downturn and a glut of procedurals have pushed off-network prices down from the heights of late 2004, when Spike TV shelled out a record $1.9 million an episode for CBS' "CSI: NY." That was followed by the USA Network/Bravo pact for "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" for just shy of $2 million an episode and the current record-holder, A&E's deal for "The Sopranos," valued at $2.5 million an episode.

By comparison, last year, another solidly performing CBS procedural, "Criminal Minds," was sold to A&E and ION for a combined license fee of about $850,000 an episode.

On TNT, a corporate sibling of the show's producer Warner Bros. TV, "Mentalist" will join a slate of off-network procedurals that includes "Law & Order," "Bones" and fellow CBS series "Without a Trace," "Cold Case" and "Numbers."

Created by Bruno Heller, "Mentalist" stars Baker as an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation who solves crimes using razor-sharp observation skills.

With its light tone and quirky central character, "Mentalist" had been considered a good fit for USA, which is said to have been interested. But the show might have been considered too similar to that network's original series "Psych."

TNT has been an active buyer of late. The network also recently acquired the Warner Bros.-produced cop drama "Southland" after it was canceled by NBC.

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