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'House of Payne' distributed to TBS, Fox

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," an original sitcom, is being distributed by Debmar-Mercury, an independent distributor owned by Lionsgate in Vancouver.

Debmar-Mercury will provide TBS with 100 first-run episodes for telecast in 2007. Broadcast syndicaton by Fox stations in Dallas, New York, Washington and Houston will follow, as well WCIU in Chicago, TVWeek.com reported.

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In the past decade, first-run syndication comedies have been rare.

"This proves that independent producers and distributors have a viable alternative to create and distribute entertainment properties successfully and profitably," Debmar-Mercury co-President Ira Bernstein said in a statement.

"Payne" is a multigenerational story about an African-American family forced to live together when C.J. Payne's house burns down.

The show is written and directed by Tyler Perry, who got started in urban theater before working with Lionsgate on the breakout movie hit "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion."

This is his first involvement in television.

"With TBS and Fox committed to 100 episodes of my series, I can concentrate on telling great stories and producing the best series possible," Perry said.

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