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MGM launches classic TV service to roar like the Fonz

January 4, 2011 |  1:30 pm

In one of its first moves after emerging from bankruptcy proceedings, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios is creating a national television programming service -- stocked with episodes of such classic sitcoms as "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" -- to sell to television stations across the country.

The joint venture, called Me-TV, is an expansion of MGM's collaboration with Chicago-based TV station owner Weigel Broadcasting. (Me-TV stands for "memorable entertainment television.") Two years ago, the two companies formed ThisTV -- a programming service that featured B-level movies that had otherwise been sitting in MGM's vault. 

LaverneShirley ThisTV was offered to TV stations looking for low-cost programming to fill their digital spectrum. The network is now available in about 85% of homes with televisions in the U.S. Me-TV is similarly positioned to be sold to TV stations.  Weigel will schedule the network's programming, and MGM will handle distribution sales.

ThisTV offers a mix of movies and TV shows, but Me-TV is designed to showcase nostalgic TV programs, including "Cheers," "MASH," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Bob Newhart Show" and the "Green Hornet."  Weigel is currently broadcasting Me-TV on its stations in Chicago and Milwaukee, which television aficionados know as the home of basement dwellers "Laverne & Shirley."

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, Schlemiel, Schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!"

-- Meg James

Photo: Penny Marshall, rear, and Cindy Williams as the respective title characters of "Laverne & Shirley." Courtesy: MGM