Teletubbies: To Russia, With Love

First Coca-Cola, then McDonald’s and now the Teletubbies.

It’s official — everything’s going Russia.

The British Broadcasting Corp. — the United Kingdom’s network behemoth that owns the rights to the phenomenal pre-schooler show — has confirmed today that it has wrapped a deal with Russian state broadcaster RTR, which allows all 365 episodes of the Teletubbies to air in Russia beginning in September.

“Teletubbies” For those that haven’t been touched by the magic of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa or Po, the Teletubbies first came to fame in 1997 as a children’s show in England specifically designed to target the (once uncharted) demographic of 1-year-olds. The brainchild of creators Anne Wood and Andy Davenport, the show’s concept was said to be an educational one that teaches kids how to think, learn and listen — all from watching television.

With the convenience of global syndication, the show’s unparalleled success and popularity has been spreading to many parts of the world (120 territories to be exact), including the United States, the Netherlands, South Africa and France. The Russian deal is estimated to broaden the franchise’s reach to an additional 200 million audience.

Along with its special brand of television learning, the show will also bring the value of consumerism to the economically depressed region. To coincide with the show’s bowing, BBC Worldwide will reportedly launch a range of books and products to the children of Russia in September.

‘MILLIONAIRE’ GOING JAPAN: In related news, the-mother-of-all-game-shows is going global, too.

Daily Variety reports today that Japanese network Fuji Television has acquired the rights to produce their own version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” from Britain’s Celador Productions.

The Japanese network has ordered 26 hour-long episodes for primetime broadcast every Thursday beginning in April.

The Japanese “Millionaire” spawn will be hosted by veteran quiz show meister Monta Mino, whose “romance gray haircolor,” Fuji exec Chihiro Kameyama said, is reminiscent of “Millionaire’s” dashing American host

Regis Philbin.

Due to Japanese laws forbidding the amount of money that might be given out on a game show, the top prize for the Japanese version of “Millionaire Quiz” will be capped at the sanctioned 10 million yen (U.S. $90,000) instead of at the wowing 100 million yen (U.S. $900, 000) the show’s producers had once aimed for.

RANDOM BITS: Viewers watching CBS’s “Grapevine” tonight might be struck with an uncanny experience of déjà vu.

And you are not entirely wrong.

The show, a sex comedy about a trio of upwardly mobile swingers living it up in Miami’s South Beach, actually debuted as a slightly different incarnation back in 1992, only to be scrapped a few months later for what the network now says as being “way ahead of its time.”

The recycled version, airing tonight, returns with its original writer and one of its original cast members. Viewers endowed with photographic memory are welcomed to pick out the similarities and differences between the canned version and the revived one. …

… Roseanne’s eponymous ABC sitcom “Roseanne” is tapped to join Nick at Nite’s Golden Rerun lineup. …

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