On Friday, ABC Studios closed a put pilot commitment deal at CBS for Gorgeous Morons, a multi-camera comedy from Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky and Danny Chun, which the studio only shopped to outside networks. That was ABC Studios’ first major comedy commitment at a non-Disney network in many years as the studio is pushing a mandate to produce for all networks. (The studio has some tradition on the drama side with such series as Criminal Minds and the upcoming Intelligence, both on CBS.) Now CBS TV Studios, which had been focused entirely on its sibling broadcast networks CBS and CW, made it known this summer that it too will start selling to other broadcast networks. (The studio already has been developing for cable and has TNT series King & Maxwell.) In one of its first sales to a broadcast rival, CBS Studios has set up an untitled sisters comedy project from Danielle Sanchez-Witzel at ABC. The project, which stems from Sanchez-Witzel’s studio overall deal, centers on a woman with a messy life who moves in with her younger sister. It is one of several projects CBS Studios has at ABC and Fox.
Universal TV signaled its plan for transformation into a full-fledged studio shortly after the 2011 regime change at NBC. Two years later, the former NBC production arm has as many comedy series on the fall schedule at NBC (2) as it does at Fox. The studio just sold a legal comedy to ABC. Written/exec produced by Mike Arnold (Archer) and executive produced by The Office alum Ed Hemls, who has a first-look deal with Uni TV, the project centers on a gifted, comedically flawed lawyer who brings her unique style of leadership & litigation to a small law firm. It joins another Uni TV-produced comedy that has been set up at ABC this season, a romantic vehicle from Jason Katims and Sarah Watson which coincidentally also takes place at a law firm.
In expanding their portfolios, CBS TV Studios, ABC Studios and Uni TV are looking to join the ranks of leading TV studios 20th Century Fox TV and Warner Bros. TV, which always have been suppliers to all networks while also fulfilling the needs of their sister nets, Fox and the CW, respectively. Over the past decade, after the CSI debacle when ABC Studios pulled out of the show once it was picked up to series by CBS, losing hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, broadcast networks have been increasingly open to shows from outside suppliers. The top comedies at CBS and ABC come from Warner Bros. TV and 20th TV, while NBC’s highest profile new shows, The Blacklist and The Michael J Fox Show, hail from Sony TV. As an independent studio, Sony TV had been hamstrung by vertical integration but has done increasingly well over the past couple of years as the networks are favoring a studio-blind approach on some of their choices. That said, vertical integration is probably here to stay and tends to influence the networks’ decisions, particularly on the renewal and scheduling front. For instance, ABC opted to pick up the ABC Studios-produced The Neighbors vs. Sony’s Happy Endings in May. And CBS snubbed scorching-hot comedy The Big Bang Theory and rising drama Person Of Interest (both from Warner Bros. TV) as a post-Super Bowl pick last season, instead going with owned freshman Elementary. But overall, the lines are definitely are starting to blur.
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