The latest news from the TV beat

By Joe Flint
Updated July 17, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT
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REEL MONEY If you think you’re paying a lot to see a movie these days, just check out what the networks—broadcast and cable—are shelling out to land rights to recent releases.

NBC coughed up $25 million to nab Sony’s Godzilla, which has turned out to be a big box office disappointment. On the other hand, the Peacock’s $30 million deal for Titanic (sold by Paramount during the film’s second week of release) looks to be the bargain of the decade, since the film has gone on to gross more than $1.74 billion.

Two cosmic-disaster flicks made a splash—with ABC paying $25 million to Disney for Armageddon, and CBS dishing out $25 million for Paramount’s Deep Impact.

Now that TNT has lost its piece of the NFL football pie to ESPN, Turner Broadcasting has been scooping up films to fill that programming void. The cable net recently teamed up with CBS to buy a four-film Warner Bros. package that includes the Gwyneth Paltrow/Michael Douglas thriller A Perfect Murder and the upcoming Samuel Jackson/Kevin Spacey film The Negotiator for between $20 million and $25 million. (CBS gets to air Perfect Murder and Negotiator before they go to Turner, while Turner gets Denzel Washington’s Fallen and Chevy Chase’s Vegas Vacation before they go to the Eye.)

What’s even crazier than the price tags is that the nets don’t expect to make money off the flicks. ”Many of these movies are loss leaders,” says one network bidder. ”You use them to promote sweeps and your lineup. With these deals, you just pray you don’t lose too much money.”

FOR THE RECORD Believe it or not, Fox—home of such boundary-pushing specials as Close Calls: Cheating Death and When Animals Attack—does have its limits. The net toned down one of the more outrageous segments from its upcoming summer series Guinness World Records: Primetime, when, upon viewing it, a standards and practices exec fainted and had to be rushed to the infirmary. The offending clip? Shots of the world’s largest tumor (some 303 pounds), being removed from a woman.

AND SO ON Jon Lovitz, who has guest-starred on NBC’s NewsRadio, has landed the job as Phil Hartman’s replacement.

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