Fox TV Studios president David Madden has signed a new long-term contract with 20th Century Fox Television to remain at the helm of the boutique cable production company for at least four more years. Madden, a respected veteran …
The Quiet Ground Breaker: How ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Pushed The Sitcom Form & Was Saved By Britney Spears
On How I Met Your Mother‘s last day of production a month ago, Dana Walden — chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the long-running series — was meeting with the big boss, 21st Century Fox chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, in his office. She mentioned HIMYM was wrapping that day and, in the middle of their meeting Murdoch said, “I want to go over and say hallo.” He walked to the set and thanked creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the cast and the crew “for all of the great work they have done.” “For a show to provoke that kind of response from Rupert, it speaks to how important that show has been to the company,” Walden said.
If such a gesture from the head of a global conglom might come as a surprise, it is probably because HIMYM, which wraps its nine-season run tonight on CBS, has flown largely under the radar. HIMYM hasn’t been a blockbuster ratings hit like The Big Bang Theory, hasn’t made headlines with a record-breaking syndication deal like 2 Broke Girls, and hasn’t been an awards darling like Modern Family, never landing an Emmy in the major categories. But it broke ground, pushing the limits of the traditional multi-camera sitcom with a new production model and heavy serialization that helped it attract younger (18-34) viewers, something very few multi-cam comedies have been able to do in the past decade as young audiences have been largely shunning the format in favor of edgier single-camera fare.
Multi-camera comedies had tried employing shorter scenes before, most notably NBC’s Seinfeld. But Bays and Thomas’ pilot script for How I Met Your Mother called for a pace that had not been achieved before. It included a whopping 59 scenes, plus freeze frames with narration, whip pans, a split screen scene and a montage. That’s not how you normally see in a multi-camera sitcom, which is what CBS had bought in HIMYM. But then, Carter and Bays didn’t quite know normal. The young writers were recent transplants to Los Angeles and primetime after a stint at CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. They had only worked for a couple of very short-lived comedy series and had never developed before HIMYM. “This was new to them, and they didn’t know the limitations of what they can and cannot do, so they wrote what was in their heads,” Walden said.
Former Nikita co-executive producer Albert Kim has signed a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV. The pact, which has an option for a third year, marks Kim’s first overall deal. Under the agreement, Kim will work on 20th TV’s upcoming Fox adventure series Hieroglyph and will later join the second season of the studio’s breakout Fox drama Sleepy Hollow as a co-executive producer. He also will develop. “This was highly sought after,” said 20th president of creative affairs Johnny Davis of the deal. “We build shows around a voice, and Albert has a very specific voice; his writing is compelling and an adrenaline rush.”
20th Century Fox TV continues to dole out promotions to its top executive under chairmen/CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman. Following the recent elevation of Jonathan Davis to President, Creative Affairs, félicitations are in order for one of his new direct reports, 20th TV’s longtime head of current programming Jeffrey Glaser. (More on his French connection later.) Glaser, who had served as SVP Current Programming for 20th TV since 2003, when Walden and Newman created the department with him at the helm, has been upped to EVP. “Jeffrey has led our current programming team for many years, and has done a spectacular job keeping our shows creatively strong and vibrant, helping to earn them well-deserved renewals year after year,” Davis said.
Jonathan Davis‘ rise through the 20th Century Fox TV executive ranks continue with another big promotion. The EVP Comedy Development and Animation has been named President, Creative Affairs. In the new post, Davis will oversee four of the studio’s five programming departments: comedy development, drama development, animation and current. Additionally, 20th TV’s SVP drama development Michael Thorn is being named EVP of development, overseeing both comedy and drama development, reporting to Davis. Davis continues to report to 20th TV Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman. This is the first time 20th TV has had an executive (Davis) with oversight of more than two departments under Walden and Newman and the first to told a president title since Walden and Newman were promoted from presidents to chairmen in 2007. Thorn’s responsibilities of overseeing both drama and comedy development are similar to those former EVP Jennifer Salke, now NBC entertainment president, once had. She also got promoted from running the 20th TV’s drama development but she reported to Walden and Newman. There are no plans to name new heads of comedy and drama. “Jonnie has grown into one of the best executives in our business; his quick thinking, creativity and enthusiasm for the business are undeniable, Walden and Newman said. “Michael is a wonderful creative executive who is both incredibly smart and enormously respected in the community.”
20th Century Fox TV has promoted Howard Kurtzman to President, Business Operations, and Mark Pearson to EVP Brand Management and Digital Media. Both report to chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who made the announcement today. Kurtzman will expand his responsibilities to include additional involvement with the studio’s expanding cable production units Fox 21 and Fox Television Studios, while continuing to oversee the company’s business and legal affairs operations. Pearson continues to lead the exploitation of the studio’s brands across all distribution channels, with specific emphasis on digital and new media, overseeing the company’s Brand Management, Strategy, Marketing, Research and Music operations. He helps guide Twentieth TV’s home entertainment, DVD and SVOD strategies, and works alongside the syndication division on new broadcast and cable sales and the digital entertainment group on developing mobile apps and games.
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran animated comedy writer-producer David Goodman has signed a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV where he has been for the past decade and a half. Goodman has spent most of that time working with 20th TV-based uber producer Seth MacFarlane — eight years on the animated Family Guy, where Goodman rose to executive producer/showrunner, and currently consulting on live-action freshman Dads. Additionally, Goodman co-created and served as showrunner on 20th TV’s animated comedy Murder Police, which was picked up to series by Fox but will not air; developed/ran the studio’s Fox animated series Allen Gregory; and served as a co-executive producer on 20th/Fox’s Futurama.
TV and film writer Drew (formerly Andrew) Chapman is set to adapt his upcoming first novel, The Ascendant, as a drama series for Fox through 20th Century Fox TV. In the vein of Three Days of the Condor, The Ascendant is described as a modern, subversive take on the white-knuckle thriller. It centers on Garrett Reilly, a 26-year-old NYC bond trader and financial wunderkind who recognizes a huge U.S. Treasury bond selloff and an opportunity to become incredibly rich but stumbles upon something much larger — and scarier: the first attack in a covert war of unthinkable proportions. The novel – which will be published by Simon & Schuster in January with a big initial print run of 75,000 — is envisioned as a franchise, with Chapman already writing the second book. In TV, Chapman, repped by Rothman Brecher Agency, Original Artists, Regal Literary, Ragna Nervik Management and Jonathan Shikora is writing ABC’s upcoming CIA limited series The Assets and previously penned the ABC pilot A House Divided.
Lithium is another hourlong Fox project from 20th TV, written/executive produced by Michael Horowitz (Burn Notice) and executive produced by Richard Shepard and Bryan and Sean Furst through their 20th TV-based Olé.
EXCLUSIVE: Another hot Swedish novel is headed for an U.S. screen adaptation. 20th Century Fox TV has acquired rights to the upcoming thriller De Redan Döda by author Robert Karjel, for studio-based Chernin Entertainment to develop as a drama series with Sweden-based Yellow Bird Entertainment. Titled The Swede, the project centers on a Swedish secret service agent summoned to a remote U.S. military base to interrogate a prisoner thought to be a fellow Swede. He is drawn into the complex investigation led by a female CIA agent, where the evidence takes them from the 2004 Thailand tsunami to a terrorist attack in Topeka, Kansas, and where no one is who they seem to be. De Redan Döda follows in the footsteps of the Millennium trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, which became the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movie franchise and Leif G.W. Persson’s Backstrom books, which have been in series development at 20th TV for the past two seasons, most recently going to pilot at CBS starring Rainn Wilson last spring.