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International Management Group's Trans World International is reviving its legendary made-for-TV sports program "The Superstars" for a 25th anniversary special.

That could serve as a springboard for a new ongoing property that TWI would market.

TWI has bought the time on ABC to air the 2-hour special March 7. Sea-Doo personal watercraft has signed on as an associate sponsor, and marketers in the automotive and telecommunications categories are being approached for title sponsorship, priced at $250,000.


On top of that fee, the marketer that buys the title sponsorship will also have to claim 10 of 40 ad units, which are each being priced at $30,000. Associate sponsors will be linked to individual events and get product placement and banner ads.

"Superstars" pioneered the genre of made-for-TV sports competitions. The concept pits athletes from various sports against each other to determine who is the best overall athlete. An array of well-known athletes participated in the annual event, including Walter Payton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Steve Garvey.

TWI and partner Candid Productions pulled the plug on the show in 1994. But now TWI executives believe the time is right to bring it back.


Bob Horowitz, TWI's senior VP-director of U.S. TV sales and programming, said sports is now filled with a new generation of star athletes, all of whom grew up watching "Superstars." He also acknowledged that the revival was intended to capitalize on the current nostalgia for 1970s pop culture.

The 2-hour special will offer a blend of both old and new. Olympian Dan O'Brien and National Football League star Herschel Walker are the first athletes to agree to compete; eight others are being sought. TWI is also bringing back a host of past participants to reminisce.

TWI is handling ad sales; in the past, programs were sold to ABC and NBC for a rights fees and the nets sold the time although TWI brought title sponsors such as Fram Corp. and Jeep to the program.


TWI recently created an in-house marketing division to package and sell sponsorships for properties such as "Superstars." It's also working on deals for six made-for-TV ski events that will air early next year, as well as the 1999

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