|Traded as||NYSE: SP|
|Fate||Still operates but as an in-name-only unit of CBS Television Studios.|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Key people||Aaron Spelling (founder)|
Spelling Television Inc. (first known as Aaron Spelling Productions and Spelling Entertainment Inc. and became part of Spelling Entertainment Group) was a television production company that produced popular shows such as Charmed, Beverly Hills, 90210, 7th Heaven, Dynasty and Melrose Place. The company was founded by television producer Aaron Spelling in 1969. The company is currently an in-name-only unit of CBS Television Studios.
In the late 1970s/early 1980s in television, Spelling was king. In 1984, Spelling had seven shows on the ABC television network, accounting for one-third their prime time schedule. This outweighed other production companies by a large margin, leading many industry insiders to dub ABC as "Aaron's Broadcasting Company". Spelling himself was never amused with this name.
Aaron Spelling Productions went public in 1986 after raising $80 million. In 1988, Aaron Spelling Productions acquired Laurel Entertainment and most of the Taft Entertainment Company, including Worldvision Enterprises, Inc. All three companies became part of Spelling Entertainment Inc. - though Worldvision was the only Taft division to continue operating. The sale was completed on March 1, 1989.
In the early 1990s Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place helped propel Fox even higher and reach a new generation of young teen viewers. Also in the 1990s the WB was launched and their longest running, highest rated and most successful show during their time in operation was 7th Heaven for ten seasons. By 2006, another new network, the CW, used 7th Heaven in their first season in operation as the newest network. Spelling's ABC, Fox, and WB shows were enormously successful for the company and they wasted no time entering into the world of merchandise in the 80's and 90's. The company also was one of the first production companies to actively run a website for a show they produced when the internet was just taking off in the 1990s. The website was for Melrose Place.
Spelling Entertainment Inc. was acquired by The Charter Company on April 6, 1991. On March 31, 1992, Spelling and Charter announced a merger agreement. On October 5, 1992, Charter changed its name to Spelling Entertainment Group Inc. and updated its NYSE ticker symbol to SP.
On October 5, 1993, Blockbuster, Inc. acquired a controlling stake in Spelling Entertainment Group. On April 28, 1994, Spelling Entertainment and Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation acquired Republic Pictures for $100 million.
On September 29, 1994, Blockbuster merged with Viacom. Blockbuster by then owned 67% of Spelling Entertainment. After the merger, Spelling Entertainment integrated Worldvision into their Republic Pictures unit, thus dismantling Worldvision as a production company. Worldvision distribution functions continued until 1999, when it was folded into Paramount Domestic Television that year and assumed distribution functions (Viacom had bought Paramount Communications - formerly Gulf+Western - the parent of Paramount Pictures and its television division, in 1994).
In 1995, Viacom attempted to sell its then-78% share of Spelling. One reason was that they wanted to recoup the debt incurred from buying Paramount Communications. Also, they felt that the operations of Spelling Television was too similar to its Paramount Television division. Potential bids came from PolyGram, New World Entertainment, and News Corporation. These plans were called off in 1996 as Viacom could not find the perfect bidder. The remainder of Spelling Entertainment was then acquired by Viacom on June 23, 1999.
The company's first home was a suite of offices on the old Warners lot in Hollywood. A newer base followed when the company was an original anchor tenant of the Wilshire Courtyard buildings in LA's revitalized Miracle Mile district. Aaron Spelling was said to have loved his old office's 1970s shag carpet so much that he had it removed piece by piece and installed in the new office. The company grew so large with so many different entities that at one point it leased all three top floors of the 5700 building and held additional office space across the street. Aaron Spelling had one of the largest offices in Hollywood for a single executive. Upon the company's exit, media companies from all over Los Angeles vied for the desirable office suites; the newly formed CW Network briefly looked at the offices when considering a location for the new start-up network. Spelling Television briefly moved to smaller offices in Santa Monica in 2006.
By 2000, Aaron Spelling remained active and involved as CEO until his death in 2006. Company president Jonathan Levin handled day-to-day operations and longtime Spelling producing partner, E. Duke Vincent helped guide the successful production company.
Spelling Television was eventually downsized even further & became a small "production shingle" under CBS Paramount Television (now CBS Television Studios), a division of CBS Corporation, with a small staff. The company became an in-name-only unit of CBS Television Studios after Aaron Spelling's death in 2006.
The company can be credited with helping several networks (ABC, Fox, the WB, and the CW) with successful shows.
7th Heaven was the last series produced by Spelling Television broadcast on network television.
Spelling's library today
The CBS/Viacom split essentially resulted in the de-merger of Spelling and Republic. Spelling retained the rights to the television side of the Spelling/Republic library, while Republic retained the theatrical and direct-to-video sides of the library.
Currently, all television programs that were produced or acquired by Spelling Television are distributed by CBS Television Distribution.
The Spelling Television company logo and series were seen on broadcast television for the last time during the rerun of the 7th Heaven series finale on September 16, 2007. Spelling's logo continues to appear on the covers of DVD releases of the Spelling library (except for those shows owned by Sony Pictures Television, and shows that were not originally produced by Spelling but acquired later on, like Bonanza).
In late 2008, some of Spelling Television's productions, including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Twin Peaks, and The Love Boat began streaming full episodes live on CBS's website under the Classics page.
Spelling Entertainment Group
Before the full acquisition by Viacom in 1999 (where only Spelling Television would be left standing as a separate operating unit), Spelling Entertainment Group's holdings consisted of the following:
- Spelling Entertainment Group:
- Spelling Television and most of the libraries of ancestor companies (excluding Spelling-Goldberg Productions properties which were sold off to Columbia Pictures Television)
- Spelling Films
- Republic Pictures including:
- much of its own library of films and in-house TV series
- The inherited holdings of National Telefilm Associates (NTA), which itself includes:
- Worldvision Enterprises acquired in 1988:
- The Sunn Classic Pictures and Titus Productions libraries
- The Taft International Pictures and Taft Entertainment Television libraries
- Majority of the Quinn Martin library.
- Pre-1973 ABC shows, as well as US television rights to NBC's Little House on the Prairie (premiered in 1974)
- The Selznick International Pictures library (excluding Gone with the Wind, which was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1944, later to Turner Entertainment Co. in 1986; Turner merged with Time Warner in 1996)
- The television rights to most of the Carolco Pictures library
After the late 2005 corporate split between Viacom and CBS Corporation, some of the above have gone to each company. Films mostly went to Viacom's Paramount Pictures unit and television with CBS Corporation's CBS Television Distribution unit, while the Selznick films went to the various territorial television syndication divisions of Disney/ABC, as ABC itself holds the rights to the Selznick films.
As for DVD rights, these are also split:
- CBS Home Entertainment owns worldwide DVD rights to the television library, with distribution by Paramount (one exception being the United Kingdom rights to Twin Peaks, which, due to prior contracts, are handled by Universal Studios Home Entertainment through its Universal Playback label). Another exception is Holocaust, a miniseries Spelling acquired in the Taft Entertainment acquisition - CBS has licensed DVD rights to various other companies outside the US, while Paramount owns the United States rights.
- In the United States, a few of the films (most notably It's a Wonderful Life) have DVD rights owned by Paramount, but the rest were distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, successor to previous Spelling/Republic video licensee Artisan Entertainment, but was shifted to Olive Films. In the rest of the world, DVD rights to the films are owned by various other companies (for example, Universal in the UK, and Paramount themselves in France and Region 4).
- Aaron Spelling Productions (1969–1988)
- Spelling Entertainment Inc. (1988-1992)
- Spelling Entertainment Group (1992–1999)
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Notes and references
- "Spelling, Aaron". Museum of Broadcast Communications, The. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- "Spelling Entertainment Inc. formed in reorganization of Aaron Spelling Productions Inc.; merger with Worldvision and Laurel also completed.". highbeam.com.
- "Spelling sells stake in firm". Chicago Tribune. April 6, 1991. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- "The Free Library" SPELLING ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND THE CHARTER COMPANY ANNOUNCE MERGER AGREEMENT PRNewswire thefreelibrary.com, Retrieved on January 30, 2013
- "The Charter Co. Shareholders Approve Name Change to Spelling Entertainment Group Inc.". October 5, 1992. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- SPELLING ENTERTAINMENT COMPLETES SALE OF SHARES TO BLOCKBUSTER thefreelibrary.com, Retrieved on May 27, 2013
- "Orlando Sentinel" Blockbuster's Spelling Finishes Buying Republic articles.orlandosentinel.com, Retrieved on May 27, 2013
- "Viacom Completes Merger With Blockbuster". techagreements.com.
- Geraldine Fabrikant (August 11, 1995). "Viacom to Put Spelling Stake Up for Sale". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- Mark Landler (May 22, 1996). "Viacom Drops Plan to Sell Its Stake in Spelling Group". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2013.