Former Will & Grace executive producers/showrunners Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally have inked a two-year overall deal with Universal Media Studios. Under the pact, said to be seven-figure per year, the two have joined new NBC/UMS anthology dramedy series Love Bites as executive producers. They will serve as writing showrunners on the show, working alongside executive producers/non-writing showrunners Shelley McCrory and director Marc Buckland. Poust and Kinnally replace Love Bites creator Cindy Chupack who recently stepped down from day-to-day showrunner duties because of personal matters but continues to write for the show.
Under their overall deal with UMS, Poust and Kinnally, who are friends with Chupack, originally planned to consult on Love Bites while focusing on development. But when approached for the showrunner gig, the duo, who spent the last 4 years on ABC’s Ugly Betty, decided to go for it, segueing to another hourlong dramedy and reuniting with Betty co-star Becki Newton, who is the star of Love Bites. Newton, who recently announced she is pregnant, presents one of the challenges Love Bites currently faces as her character is virgin in the pilot. Another challenge is the pending departure of Jordana Spiro who was to topline the series with Newton but her character will be phased out because of the actress’ commitment to TBS’ My Boys. Newton’s baby news and Chupack’s exit from the helm of the show led to NBC’s decision to pull Love Bites from the fall schedule, where it was to launch in the Thursday 10 PM slot, and push production on the show by a few weeks. Poust and Kinnally, known for their story-breaking skills, will use the time to work on a new direction for the anthology series in light of the recent developments.
The deal brings Poust and Kinnally back to NBC and UMS where they spent 8 years working on Will & Grace. NBC/UMS’ president of primetime entertainment Angela Bromstad, who oversaw UMS (then NBC Studios) during the second half of Will & Grace’s run, called the duo “perfect for (the Love Bites) job.” “Not only do they bring intelligence, passion and great experience, but they are one of the funniest writing duos working in television today,” said. “This is great news for an incredibly promising new show.”
Long-time friends Kinnally and Poust first began to work together in the mid-1990s in New York when they did a live, weekly soap opera show at an East Village club. They started writing some of their own material and soon formed a small comedy sketch group. In 1997, they reunited in Los Angeles where they worked odd jobs while doing sketch comedy at the Arcade Theater and writing sitcom spec scripts. In 1998, one of their specs found its way to David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, creators/executive producers of then-newly picked up series Will & Grace. Kinnally and Poust – a gay man and a straight woman in real life, just like the title characters on the NBC sitcom – were offered staff writing jobs and went on to work on Will & Grace for the show’s entire 8-year run, rising to executive producers/showrunners on the show’s final two seasons. The two wrote the fifth episode of Will & Grace‘s first season, the first episode not written by creators Kohan and Mutchnick, as well as the famous A Chorus Lie episode starring Matt Damon as Jack’s heterosexual rival, pretending to be gay to vie for a spot in the Manhattan Gay Men’s Chorus.
Following the end of Will & Grace, Kinnally and Poust inked an overall deal with ABC Studios. After a brief stint on the studios’ short-lived single-camera ABC comedy In Case of Emergency, the two joined ABC Studios’ then-freshman dramedy Ugly Betty, on which they worked for the past 4 years, first as co-executive producers and then as executive producers. Kinnally and Poust are repped by WME and attorney Ken Richman.
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