Paramount Television

Paramount Television
Predecessor Desilu Productions
Founded 1967 (Original)
March 4, 2013 (Relaunch)
Defunct 2006 (Original)
Area served
Products Television Production
Owner Gulf+Western (1967–1989)
Paramount Communications (1989–1994)
"Old" Viacom (1994–2005)
CBS Corporation (2006)
"New" Viacom (2013–present)
Parent Paramount Pictures (1967–2005, 2013–present)
CBS Studios (2006)
Divisions Paramount Domestic Television
Paramount International Television (until 2004)
Wilshire Court Productions (1989–2003)
Subsidiaries Viacom Productions (1995–2004)
Spelling Television (1999–2006)
Big Ticket Entertainment (1999–2006)

Paramount Television is an American television production/distribution company that was active from 1967 until 2006 and revived in 2013. Most of this time it served as the television arm of the Paramount Pictures film studio. Its predecessor is Desilu Productions.


The company was known for producing and distributing programs such as The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s, Happy Days on ABC in the 1970s, Cheers and its spinoff Frasier on NBC in 1982 and 1993, the Star Trek franchise, Girlfriends in 2000 (with Grammnet Productions, 2006–08 episodes by CBS Paramount Network Television) on UPN (later CW), Duckman in 1994 (with Klasky Csupo) on USA Network, and the daily Paramount staple Entertainment Tonight in 1981, among others.


Desilu Productions

Main article: Desilu Productions

The predecessor company, Desilu Productions, was originally founded in 1950 by Lucille Ball (1911–89) and Desi Arnaz (1917–86) for the purpose of producing Ball's CBS radio series "My Favorite Husband" and later their sitcom, I Love Lucy, for the CBS network. It later produced Ball's follow-up series, The Lucy Show, as well as such other shows as Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, Mannix, and Star Trek (the latter three as well as The Lucy Show would be continued under Paramount Television).

Paramount's early involvement in television

Paramount Pictures had made a couple of attempts in the mid-1950s to produce series themselves under the Telemount (Television + Paramount) banner. The first, Cowboy G-Men, was a joint effort with Mutual Broadcasting for syndication. The second, Sally starring Joan Caulfield, was a short-lived series on NBC during the 1957–58 season. Before that, Paramount owned a de facto television network, the Paramount Television Network, and had a stake in another network, the DuMont Television Network. Paramount Studios also had outright ownership of KTLA in Los Angeles (the LA station was the anchor station of the PTN). Paramount formerly owned WBKB in Chicago, as part of the Balaban & Katz theatre circuit, but when the company was divided into two by the Paramount case anti-trust action in 1949, the studio kept KTLA and sold WBKB with its other theatre-related properties. The spun-off United Paramount Theatres purchased control of the American Broadcasting Company, and due to legal requirements sold WBKB-TV (now WBBM) to CBS.

Another attempt by Paramount was known as Paramount Pictures Television. One of the series was Destination Space, a pilot to a proposed series that never got off the ground, produced in association with the CBS Television Network in 1959.

The 1960s

In 1966, Paramount was on the verge of bankruptcy, when the studio was bought out by Gulf+Western. By that point, Paramount had pretty much distanced itself from television, having stopped production of its early shows, closed down its networks, and sold off the stations they owned.

They also sold off most of their early theatrical library (before 1950, for the most part) to such companies as EMKA, Ltd.  a wholly owned subsidiary of MCA Inc. (pre-1950 theatrical live-action sound features; now part of Universal Studios), U.M. & M. TV Corporation (most short subjects released through September 1950; now part of Paramount-owned Republic Pictures), Associated Artists Productions  also called a.a.p. [sic] for short (Popeye cartoons; now part of Time Warner's Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. units), Harvey Films (most short subjects released between September 1950 and March 1962; now also owned by Universal Studios, which bought DreamWorks Classics and its parent, DreamWorks Animation in 2016), and National Comics (Superman theatrical cartoons; later DC Comics, now also owned by Time Warner).

Sale and re-incorporation

In 1967, Charles Bluhdorn's Gulf+Western brought Desilu, which was merged with Paramount, who had been Desilu's next door neighbor since the closure of RKO Pictures. The sale resulted in Desilu's re-incorporation as Paramount Television in December of that year. The three Desilu lots  the original RKO Studios and two Culver City locations  were included in the sale, but the Justice Department forced Bluhdorn to sell the Culver Studios to avoid a monopoly.[1] The old RKO globe is still in place at the corner of Gower and Melrose in the Paramount lot.[2]

The first PTV production to premiere after the re-incorporation was Here's Lucy. Paramount only produced the first season however, selling their stake in the show to Ball after the season finale.

Gulf+Western had plans to launch a television network in the late 1970s, the Paramount Television Service, with a new Star Trek series as the cornerstone of the network. But these plans were scrapped, and Star Trek: Phase II was reworked into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Ownership changes and library expansion

In 1989, Gulf+Western was re-incorporated as Paramount Communications, named after the company's prime asset, Paramount Pictures (the name of which was also used for the company as a whole). That firm was sold to Viacom in 1994. The Viacom merger gave Paramount a larger TV show library as well, since Viacom had television production and distribution units as well prior to the Paramount acquisition. The distribution company, Viacom Enterprises (which syndicated the classic CBS library among other shows), was merged into Paramount Domestic Television while the production company, Viacom Productions (known at the time for its co-productions with Fred Silverman and Dean Hargrove), continued as a PTV division until 2004. The first major hit from Viacom Productions to debut after becoming a PTV division was Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, based on the Archie Comic of the same name. Starring Melissa Joan Hart as the title character, the series lasted four seasons on ABC (in contrast to the lack of success from the parent company on the network in this period) and three on The WB between 1996–2003.

Paramount continued to build its TV library. In 1999, Viacom acquired full interest in Spelling Entertainment Group (which included Spelling Television, Big Ticket Entertainment, Worldvision Enterprises, and Republic Pictures, among other companies), and the rights to Rysher Entertainment's TV holdings.

Launch of UPN and co-ownership with CBS

Main article: UPN

Also, in January 1995, Paramount finally launched a TV network, the United Paramount Network, or UPN for short, which later merged with Time Warner's WB Network to form The CW. PTV produced the bulk of the series airing on UPN, including the first program ever shown on the network, Star Trek: Voyager. UPN became 100% owned by Viacom in 2000 after Chris-Craft sold its share (its TV stations were sold to News Corporation). Along with Voyager, the most successful PTV shows on UPN were One on One, Star Trek: Enterprise and Girlfriends.

In 2000, Viacom acquired CBS, which had actually spun off Viacom in 1971. PTV began producing more shows airing on CBS (it already produced JAG a former NBC production, Becker starring Cheers veteran Ted Danson, and Nash Bridges, having acquired the latter from Rysher). Most of the new PTV series that debuted on CBS after the merger were not very successful, including Bram & Alice and Out of Practice (starring Happy Days veteran Henry Winkler). However, four of these series would become hits: JAG spin-off NCIS, Numb3rs, Criminal Minds, and Ghost Whisperer (the latter two were co-productions with Touchstone Television, which later became ABC Studios). All four of these series would continue under CBS Paramount Television and later CBS Television Studios, with only NCIS and Criminal Minds still airing (both also had spin-offs of their own, with varied success).

Acquisition by CBS

At the end of 2005, Viacom split into two completely separate companies, one of which was called CBS Corporation, the other retaining the Viacom name. Despite Paramount Pictures being owned by the new Viacom, CBS inherited Paramount Television, as well as the right to retain the Paramount name. On January 16, 2006, CBS renamed the unit CBS Paramount Television.[3] Paramount's final series was Courting Alex (co-produced with Touchstone Television) for CBS.

Because National Amusements retains majority control of both CBS Corporation and the new Viacom, CBS programs (both before and after the split) are still distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

The company survived as CBS Paramount Television for three years. However, CBS began phasing out the Paramount name as early as 2007, when the American distribution arm was merged with King World Productions (bought by CBS just prior to the Viacom merger) to form CBS Television Distribution. The international arm of PTV was merged with CBS Broadcast International in 2004 (two years before the CBS/Viacom split) to form CBS Paramount International Television.

In 2009, CBS quietly announced that the Paramount name would be stripped from: the main company (CBS Paramount Television), its production arm (CBS Paramount Network Television), and its international arm, with the latter two being renamed CBS Television Studios and CBS Studios International, respectively.

With these transactions, Paramount's involvement in television  at least in name only since 2006  came to an end after 70 years (when the experimental TV stations that later became KTLA and WBBM were founded). Paramount had been the first major Hollywood studio to be involved in television.

When CBS Paramount Television was renamed to CBS Television Studios, Paramount Pictures joined forces with Trifecta Entertainment & Media in distributing the Paramount and Republic film libraries on television.


On March 4, 2013, Viacom president/CEO Philippe Dauman announced that Paramount opted to produce a television series based on one of their films. The show would allow Paramount to “get back, with very little investment, into the television production business.”[4] Hours later, Paramount chairman/CEO Brad Grey announced that the studio was co-producing a CBS TV series based on Beverly Hills Cop with Sony Pictures Television; however, the show never got past the pilot phase.[5][6] On July 22, 2013, it was announced that Amy Powell was made president of Paramount Television.[7]

A TV series based on the film School of Rock has also been announced to air on Nickelodeon.[8]

Paramount and HBO are planning a new series titled Ashecliffe, which will serve as a prequel to the 2009 Paramount film Shutter Island.[9]

Companies and individuals associated with Paramount Television

In addition to its various subdivisions, Paramount often co-produced multiple series with different companies, and had several people work on multiple series for the studio. Some examples are:

See also


  1. Dick, Bernard F. "Engulfed: the death of Paramount Pictures and the birth of corporate Hollywood" (pp. 118–119). The University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY (2001). ISBN 0-8131-2202-3.
  2. The RKO globe - Los Angeles, California. (1966-03-19). Retrieved on 2013-08-18.
  3. Friedlander, Whitney. (January 16, 2006) Eye lift for Par TV. Variety. Retrieved on 2013-08-18.
  4. Lieberman, David. "Paramount To Return To TV Series Production." (March 4, 2013).
  5. Andreeva, Nellie. "Paramount To Co-Produce CBS’ ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’" (March 4, 2013).
  6. "'Beverly Hills Cop' TV series fails to find a home -- but it might be a movie instead".
  7. NELLIE ANDREEVA "Hollywood Deadline" Amy Powell Named President Of Paramount Television, Retrieved on July 25, 2013
  8. "Nickelodeon and Paramount Television Team up on New Live-Action, Musical Comedy Series School of Rock". MarketWatch.
  9. Goldstein, Meredith; Shanahan, Mark (August 26, 2014). "'Shutter Island' might be a TV show". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
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