At the top of ABC’s TCA presentation, topper Paul Lee announced an overall deal with Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley. The pact with ABC Studios comes on the heel of ABC’s pickup of his dark drama pilot American Crime to series for this coming season. “He is an extraordinary showrunner,” Lee said of Ridley, who started his career in television before segueing to features.
Drama writer-producer Michael Seitzman has signed a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios, where he has been for the past six years. Under his most recent pact, Seitzman created and executive produced the studio’s CBS drama series Intelligence. He has developed and sold a number of other projects for ABC Studios in the past few years, three of which have gone to pilot: Americana and Empire State at ABC and House Rules at CBS. Like Seitzman’s previous overall deals, the new one is for development only. On the feature side, the WME-repped Seitzman penned the 2005 film North Country.
After lengthy negotiations, ABC Studios/Disney has closed a new mega deal with ABC’s most important drama producer, Shonda Rhimes. The four-year extension, valued at eight figures, will keep Rhimes at ABC Studios through May 2018. Rhimes has created three series for ABC and its sister studio, all of which have gone the distance: Grey’s Anatomy, which is going into its 11th season, sizzling DC drama Scandal, which is heading into Season 4, and Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice, which ran for six seasons. Additionally, though her ABC Studios-based company ShondaLand with producing partner Betsy Beers, Rhimes has produced a number of projects for the studio. The latest, drama How To Get Away With Murder starring Viola Davis, was ABC’s hottest pilot this season, easily landing a series order and a spot on ABC’s fall schedule. Rhimes is with ICM Partners and Michael Gandler.
Once Upon A Time co-executive producer Andrew Chambliss has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the series producer ABC Studios. This marks the first overall pact for rising writer-producer Chambliss, who will continue as co-exec producer on the fairytale ABC drama next season while also developing new projects. Chambliss, who started as an assistant at NBC, previously worked on CW’s The Vampire Diaries and Joss Whedon’s Fox drama Dollhouse. He is repped by ICM Partners and Bruce Gellman.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Co-Stars Sara Ramirez, James Pickens, Chandra Wilson & Justin Chambers Ink New 2-Year Deals
Sandra Oh will be the only Grey’s Anatomy original cast member with an expiring contract to depart after this season. All others have now signed new deals to continue on the veteran medical drama. That includes co-stars Sara Ramirez, James Pickens Jr., Chandra Wilson and Justin Chambers who have renewed their contracts with Grey’s producer ABC Studios for two more years, joining leads Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo who inked new pacts in January. With everyone on board, an 11th season renewal for the series from Shonda Rhimes is considered a formality.
Comedy writers Kat Likkel and John Hoberg are staying at ABC Studios with a third consecutive two-year overall deal. Since joining the studio in 2010, the married writing team have written and supervised multiple pilot scripts and executive produced last year’s ABC/ABC Studios comedy pilot Bad Management. They also served as co-executive producers on the first season of the studio’s ABC comedy series The Neighbors. Likkel and Hoberg’s previous series credits include ABC’s Better With You and Better Off Ted and NBC’s My Name Is Earl. They are repped by UTA, Helena Heyman & Dianne Fraser at Industry and Karl Austen.
ABC Studios and ABC have inked a third consecutive deal with director-producer Michael Fresco for him to direct and executive produce a pilot next year. Fresco just completed ABC/ABC Studios’ Jeff Lowell pilot and previously has helmed the pilots for Fox’s Raising Hope and ABC’s Better Off Ted and Suburgatory. He is repped by Paul Alan Smith at ESA.
EXCLUSIVE: Comedy writer-producer Dave Hemingson has closed an overall deal at ABC Studios after a decade-long stint at 20th Century Fox TV. The signing is part of a roster-building effort on the part of ABC Studios, which is looking to bring in several high-level writers heading into next season. At 20th TV, Hemingson most recently served as executive producer/co-showrunner on the studio’s upcoming CBS multi-camera comedy series Friends With Better Lives alongside creator Dana Klein. He previously served in the same capacity on 20th TV’s single-camera comedy series Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 for ABC and Traffic Light for Fox.
Hemingson also worked on 20th TV’s animated comedies Family Guy and American Dad, live-action comedy How I Met Your Mother and drama Lie To Me. He created several projects that were picked up to pilot, two of which — the 2005 single-camera comedy Kitchen Confidential starring Bradley Cooper and 2010 ABC drama The Deep End – went to series. Columbia University School Of Law graduate Hemingson cut his teeth as a TV writer on the NBC comedies Jesse and Just Shoot Me. He is repped by WME and McKuin, Frankel.
EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, director of this year’s Carrie reboot, has signed a first-look deal with ABC Studios. Under the pact, Peirce will direct and produce scripted television projects for network and cable. She may also direct ABC Studios pilots from other producers during the upcoming network pilot season. It would make the pilot directing debut of Peirce, whose only previous TV gig was directing an episode of Showtime’s The L Word. Peirce, repped by CAA and Jackoway Tyerman, burst onto the scene with her first feature, the 1999 Boys Don’t Cry, which she co-wrote and directed. Peirce also wrote and directed the 2008 feature Stop-Loss.
EXCLUSIVE: There probably won’t be as much drinking and smoking as he’s done on UK TV, but Dylan Moran has closed a deal that could see him on American TV in the not-to-distant future. The BAFTA-winning Irish comic has signed an agreement with ABC Studios to create and write a pilot for him to star in for ABC, Deadline has learned. This would be Moran’s inaugural move into television on this side of the Atlantic. The details of the deal also have Moran producing the half hour pilot and series if they are ordered. The star and co-writer of the 2000-04 Channel 4 series Black Books in the UK, Moran has also appeared in the 2004 Edgar Wright-directed Shaun of the Dead and with Shaun star Simon Pegg again in 2007’s Run Fatboy Run. He’ll next be seen in the John Michael McDonagh-directed upcoming black comedy Calvary with Bridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd and Harry Potter’s Brendan Gleeson. Moran will be touring the States next month with a new stand-up routine. Dylan Moran is repped by Kirsten Ames Management in the U.S., PBJ Management in the UK and attorney Jeffrey Bernstein.
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of TNT’s renewal of Perception for a third season, the series’ co-creator/executive producer Ken Biller has signed a new, two-year oevrall deal with ABC Studios, the studio behind the drama series starring Eric McCormack. Under the pact, Biller will continue as executive producer and showrunner of Perception as well as develop new projects for network and cable. “Ken’s been part of the ABC family for many years, and we’re thrilled to keep him in the fold,” said ABC Studios EVP Patrick Moran. Before co-creating Perception with Mike Sussman, Biller, repped by CAA and Steve Berson, co-developed and executive produced ABC Studios’ cult syndicated fantasy series Legend Of The Seeker. “I love making television, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity to keep working at ABC Studios,” Biller said. His other series credits include ABC/ABC Studios’ Six Degrees as well as NBC’s E-Ring, Fox’s North Shore, the WB/CW’s Smallville and UPN’s Star Trek: Voyager. His current development for ABC Studios includes a one-hour action drama, Dirty Work, at TNT.
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-producer Dan Fogelman, creator/executive producer of ABC’s The Neighbors, has closed an overall deal with ABC Studios, the studio behind the comedy series. Under the pact, Fogelman will continue to work on The Neighbors, which returns for a second season on September 20, while also developing new projects for the studio. Fogelman, who exec produces The Neighbors with Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan, is very important to ABC/ABC Studios’ parent the Disney Co. on the feature animation side. He is behind the blockbuster Pixar franchise Cars and also wrote hits Bolt and Tangled. Additionally, he penned Warner Bros’ Fred Claus and Crazy Stupid Love, and Paramount’s The Guilt Trip. Fogelman, repped by WME, Management 360 and Felker, Toczek, just wrapped the Al Pacino/Annette Bening starrer Imagine, which he wrote and directed, and he also wrote the upcoming Jon Turteltaub-directed Last Vegas starring Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro.
Blurring The Lines On Vertical Integration: Network-Affiliated Studios Aggressive In Selling To Other Broadcast Networks
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.
EXCLUSIVE: Criminal Minds executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois has closed a two-year overall deal with ABC Studios, the studio behind the veteran CBS crime drama. Under the pact, Barrois will continue on Criminal Minds, where she has been since 2010, and develop new projects. She just penned Criminal Minds‘ upcoming ninth-season premiere. Barrois, repped by WME and Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson, previously was an executive producer on the final season of ER and a co-executive producer on Third Watch where she worked for five seasons. On the comedy side, she spent multiple seasons on The PJ’s and The Jamie Foxx Show.
EXCLUSIVE: Michael McDonald, SVP of Drama Development at ABC Studios, has launched his own production company, Stearns Castle, which will be based at the studio. He will be succeeded in running ABC Studios’ drama department by VP drama development Nne Ebong, who is being elevated to SVP, reporting to ABC Studios EVP Patrick Moran. The changeover follows the recent executive restructuring at ABC and ABC Studios by ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, which included Moran taking the full reins of ABC Studios and EVP Barry Jossen segueing to a producing pact with the studio, ABC head of drama Channing Dungey adding movies and miniseries to her purview and the network’s head of comedy Samie Falvey also taking on international scripted development.
McDonald has been at ABC Studios for nine years, the last two heading the drama department. He had been looking to start a production company for awhile, finally getting a green light by ABC and ABC Studios’ new regime. He will develop both comedy and drama series for network, cable and alternate platforms. Additionally, he will creatively consult on various ABC shows. “After 9 amazing years as an executive at ABC Studios, I am finally able to return to my roots as a producer and fulfill the dream of starting my own television company,” McDonald said. “When I first got to Hollywood, I would sit on my stoop on Stearns Drive and talk and dream about this day. It’s finally here. And to do it with the support of Paul, Patrick, and Channing I couldn’t ask for more.“
Barry Jossen, exec vp at ABC Studios, the guy who ran day-to-day operations at ABCS, is “returning to his career as an award-winning producer with a production deal with ABC Studios,” ABC said today. That wasn’t ABC’s headline: The headline was that ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee is promoting Channing Dungey, Samie Falvey and Patrick Moran, each to EVP. Moran, who had been SVP Drama Development, now will run ABC Studios, with all creative and production operations will report to him. He’s taking Jossen’s place. Jossen had this to say: “During the course of the past year, I have given a lot of thought about what I want to do next due to television’s changing landscape. For me, it seemed best to get out of the day-to-day operational work of overseeing ABC Studios. I plan to return to producing and am considering a number of other opportunities that have come my way. I love my colleagues at ABC Studios and have been quietly preparing them for success as they transition into their new positions.” Dungey, who was SVP Drama Development, adds movies and miniseries to her purview. Falvey, formerly SVP Comedy Development, adds international scripted development to her comedy responsibilities. Read ABC’s statement after the jump:
EXCLUSIVE: The set of the ABC crime drama came to a standstill when lead Nathan Fillion didn’t show up Friday. I’ve learned the actor is in the midst of a contract dispute with producers ABC Studios over his desire for a four-day workweek on Castle, which is in production on its sixth season. It looks like the absence was his way of sending a message. ABC reps say the show continues to shoot this week, and Fillion is on set. The actor plays crime novelist Richard Castle on the show, which debuted in 2009 and sees Fillion partnered with NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). The series was picked up for another season by ABC on May 13, the same day it wrapped its fifth season. After a couple of tenuous seasons ratings-wise, Castle ranks as the network’s most-watched drama series. Fillion, who hosted the WGA West Awards in February, is repped by ICM Partners.
Vali Chandrasekaran (30 Rock) has inked a two-year overall deal with ABC Studios. The pact comes on the heels of Chandrasekaran taking his first crack at development this past season when he sold two half-hour, single-camera pitches — one to ABC through Warner Bros TV and one to Fox through 20th/Chernin. For the past three years, Chandrasekaran was a supervising producer on NBC’s 30 Rock, which ended its run in January. Before that, he spent three years on NBC’s My Name Is Earl, where he worked his way up the ranks to co-producer. On the feature side, Chandrasekaran, repped by UTA and Management 360, wrote the screenplay for the indie Meth Kings with John Riggi set to direct.
Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts Sign New Overall Deal With ABC Studios, Will Be Executive Producers On ABC’s ‘Revenge’
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts have inked a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios where they have been since 2010. At the studio, the duo served as executive producers on ABC’s medical drama Off The Map, as executive producers/showrunners on ABC’s GCB and most recently as consulting producers on another soapy ABC series, Revenge, this past season. Under the new pact, Berg and Harberts will serve as executive producers on the upcoming third season of Revenge, which is undergoing a showrunner transition, with executive producer Sunil Nayar replacing creator Mike Kelley.
ICM Partners-repped Berg and Harberts previously served as executive producers/co-showrunners on the NBC medical drama Mercy, as co-exec producers on the ABC dramedy Pushing Daisies and created/executive produced the WB dramedy Pepper Dennis.