The new show gives A-B a way to promote its theme parks and avoid the clutter of regular com-mercials that it would otherwise need to market the parks.
The new show is called "Fish or Cut Bait," said Mr. Tartikoff, the former chairman of NBC Entertainment and now president of his own production company, H. Beale Co.
"It's an action hour centered on a retired [spy] who is now a marine biologist working at Sea World, which will be the spring-board for various adventures," he said.
The show will be the second
A-B/Tartikoff collaboration. "Second Noah," a show Mr. Tartikoff created while chairman of New World Entertainment, also was developed with A-B. That series is now in its second season on ABC.
"Second Noah" is filmed in part at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla. A-B came up with the seed money for the pilot, and has an equity position in the series.
A-B doesn't get a special discount for any commercial time in the show.
"We're looking at that model for `Fish' as well," Mr. Tartikoff said.
He's targeting the show to hit the airwaves in fall 1997, and is talking to a network he declined to identify.
A-B's point person on the deal, Busch Entertainment Corp. Chairman-President John Roberts, did not return phone calls.
It is still relatively rare for advertisers to get involved in network-quality series program-ming on an equity basis.
"Most advertisers are risk-averse and don't think the up-side potential is worth it," said one media executive at a major ad agency.
General Motors Corp. has anted up to develop series period-ically-most notably for "Northern Exposure"-in a deal that also included a discount on com-mercial time during the show.
P&G'S PARAMOUNT DEAL
Currently, the most extensive equity deal involving an advertiser is the pact Procter & Gamble Co. has with Paramount Pictures Television to develop programming.
"But P&G is unlike most advertisers," said the executive. "They have always been involved in programming on the equity side."
More recently, Young & Rubicam entered talks with NBC on a pact that would likely include developing programs (AA, Sept. 16).
Ironically, the Y&R/NBC and A-B/Tartikoff deals come at the same time Television Production Partners, a programming consortium of 10 major marketers, announced it was breaking up.
"For one, agencies didn't like TPP bypassing them and dealing with their clients," said one executive familiar with TPP. "Also, it's easier if you're a Tartikoff and can deal one-on-one with a single client at a time, and don't have to deal with a consortium."