Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Universal Television have made a two-year first-look producing deal with Aggregate Films, the production company formed by Jason Bateman. As an actor, Bateman has been around long enough to remember that the bungalow on the Universal lot that will be his headquarters is the same one where he did his homework while working on the series Silver Spoons. Bateman, who got his second wind as an actor on the sitcom Arrested Development (a movie’s in the works), has starred in such Universal releases as The Change Up, Couples RetreatState of Play, The Break Up and The Kingdom. He also recently starred in the hit New Line comedy Horrible Bosses.

More recently, Bateman got bit by the producing bug. His first major film credit at Universal will come on Identity Theft, a project written for Bateman to play a man who has his identity stolen and life turned upside down. The original intent in the Steve Conrad and Craig Mazin-scripted comedy was for another actor to play the thief, until Bateman saw Melissa McCarthy’s scene-stealing work in the Universal comedy Bridesmaids, and pushed for her to be in the movie. That mvie will get underway early this year. Bateman also set up Under the Banner of Heaven, a drama based on the Jon Krakauer nonfiction book at Warner Bros, which has Ron Howard attached to direct with Dustin Lance Black writing, and Bateman producing with Brian Grazer, Shannon Costello and Stephanie Davis.

Bateman has hired Jim Garavente to run Aggregate, and aside from Identity Theft (which Bateman is producing with Scott Stuber), they have set up Cross Brothers, a project that has The Grey helmer Joe Carnahan attached to direct and Bateman and Stuber producing, and The Disappeared, a film Aggregate will coproduce with Imagine, with Oren Uziel and Rob Letterman writing. They will begin adding film and series development projects under the deal.

Said Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley: “We’ve been privileged to work with the tremendously talented Jason Bateman on several projects and we’re looking forward to collaborating on Identity Theft. Jason’s versatility and experience make him an asset on any film and we’re thrilled to have him as our partner.” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt added: “I think Jason Bateman is one of the most talented creative minds working today and the fact that he is interested in producing television series with us makes us incredibly happy. From child actor to executive producer, we welcome Jason to the Universal Television family.”

Garavente leaves The Gotham Group to join Bateman. He was a lit manager there and his clients will stay behind. Before that, Garavente partnered with writer/director Zach Helm at Mandate Pictures, and produced Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which Bateman starred in. Garavente also served stints at AMG and Innovative Artists, and started as an assistant at CAA.