EXCLUSIVE: Despite crossing over to features in a big way recently, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol co-writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec are also staying in touch with their TV roots through a pod deal at 20th Century Fox TV’s cable and reality division Fox21. Under the one-year pact, the two will write, supervise and produce projects targeted for cable. Fox21 president Bert Salke, who took the reins of the division exactly a year ago, said that the deal is indicative of his talent strategy. “We’re going to change the types of people we work with and the types of deals we make,” he said. That would often mean writers like Appelbaum and Nemec “that any network would want.” As for Fox21′s deals themselves, while they understandably pay less than network pacts, they are also far less restrictive than the exclusive broadcast deals. “I think that will be the future,” Salke said. For instance, Appelbaum and Nemec’s deal is exclusive in cable, but the two are free to shop broadcast projects on their own. And cable’s year-round development model allows writers who are busy in features like Appelbaum and Nemec the flexibility to pitch whenever they have time. Additionally, “the lines between broadcast and cable are really blurred now,” Salke said, pointing to 20th TV-based producer Ryan Murphy who has both a broadcast series, Fox’s Glee, and a cable one, FX’s upcoming American Horror Story. At Fox21, which produces FX’s Sons of Anarchy, A&E’s Breakout Kings and Showtime’s upcoming Homeland, Salke said he is in a roster-building mode, signing “tons of writer deals.”
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran TV producer Bert Salke has been tapped as president of Fox21, the cable/unscripted production arm of 20th Century Fox TV. He replaces Chris Carlisle who is exiting after a year-and-a-half stint. Salke, who is expected to start in mid-August, will report to 20th TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman.
For the past 13 years, Salke had been partnered with producer Chris Brancato in Brancato/Salke. The company was based at 20th TV from 2003-2005 before moving to ABC Studios (then Touchstone TV) where the two had been based until their most recent deal expired in mid-June. But Salke started off as an executive before segueing to producing, holding gigs at Twentieth Century Fox under Scott Rudin and at Lorimar and FBC under Peter Chernin. Because of that background, Salke had been approached for executive jobs before but said “the right one never came along” until he was asked to run Fox21.
Newman and Walden launched Fox21 in 2004 as a division for alternative and lower-cost scripted series. “I think it’s a different world today than when it was created,” Salke said. “They are now a prime supplier of prime cable programming but I think the company has not reached its potential, and there are branding questions. We’re going to aim high for event-type attention-grabbing programming.” The model would be parent studio 20th TV, which has shows like Glee and Modern Family, he said. Salke said happy with the 3 series on Fox21’s current slate, Sons of Anarchy, his favorite series on TV, and the …