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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
BBC comedy in bidding war
The Kumars at No 42
The Kumars in the US would feature a Mexican-American family
Hit comedy series The Kumars at No 42 has become the subject of a costly bidding war between US TV networks, eager to secure the format for the BBC Two show.

NBC TV and Fox went head-to-head to win the US screen rights to the show's idea, with NBC finally emerging the victor - but at a price.

The network - keen to find a hit replacement to Friends - signed a deal involving, among other things, paying the full $750,000 (478,000) production cost of each episode and only taking 10% of any profits.

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan were guests
Real celebrities feature on the show

The Kumars at No 42 has become a cult success among UK viewers. Sanjeev Bhaskar stars as a talk show host whose studio is attached to his family's house.

Guests invited on the show - generally real life celebrities - have to brave the vetting of his parents and grandmother in the house's hallway - before they even get in the studio.

The US version of the series will blend scripted and unscripted elements and focus on a Mexican-American family.

NBC's deal with The Kumars' UK producers - Gavin Polone's Pariah Television and Hat Trick Productions - involves multiple clauses.

Licence

The network has promised to show The Kumars on one of its traditionally flexible comedy nights, Tuesday or Thursday.

For a network to cover the full production costs of a show is unusual, especially since just making a big contribution would normally mean a network received about 50% of profits.

Should NBC decide not make a completed series of The Kumars, it will have to pay about $1.25m (796,000) as a penalty.

But NBC has also bought a permanent licence for the show.

This means that if it were to become as big a hit as Friends, NBC would not have to pay the producers any more money - and would therefore have the last laugh.

See also:

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