Originally created 03/14/97

NBC renews `Fraiser' for three years



HOLLYWOOD - NBC has renewed the Emmy-winning comedy "Frasier" through 2000 with a financial commitment totaling about $250 million over three seasons. The agreement was finalized after the producers had conversations with ABC about acquiring the series.

"Frasier" is in its option year, meaning the production company, Paramount Television, has the right to negotiate with other networks. Paramount rejected NBC's initial offer, but the two came to terms Thursday after ABC - which recently lost the long-running comedy "Family Matters" to CBS - entered the picture as a potential buyer.

Details weren't disclosed, and the parties withheld comment. Still, sources estimate NBC will pay an average of $3.25 million per episode through a seventh season of "Frasier," ending in 2000.

Networks usually order 22 to 26 episodes per season of hit comedies.

NBC is also working to extend the run of its top-rated sitcom, "Seinfeld," where the license fee (what the network pays for the right to air a program) is expected to approach $5 million an episode.

ABC's interest in "Frasier" might affect a lawsuit filed by Wind Dancer Production Group, the creative team behind ABC's top-rated entertainment show, "Home Improvement." Wind Dancer is suing Disney, urging the studio to seek bids for the show from other broadcasters. The producers maintain they won't receive fair-market value because Disney owns ABC and won't move the show to another network.