Comedy writers-exec producers Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, who are coming off an overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, have closed a two-year overall pact at CBS TV Studios to develop and supervise projects. Under the 20th TV pact, the duo served as executive producers on the studio’s Fox comedy New Girl and most recently worked on CBS’ The Crazy Ones. Repped by UTA and Myman Greenspan, Port and Wiseman met while they were both assistants on the 1999 UPN animated comedy Dilbert and went on to serve as story editors on NBC’s multi-camera Just Shoot Me. They also worked on NBC’s 1600 Penn as writers and exec producers, were co-exec producers on NBC’s Perfect Couples and consulting producers on The Office.
EXCLUSIVE: Hawaii Five-0 showrunner Peter Lenkov has signed a new overall deal with CBS Television Studios, the studio behind the CBS crime drama. Under the two-year pact, he will continue as executive producer/showrunner on the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, which he developed and co-wrote with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci and has run since the pilot. Now in its fourth season, Hawaii Five-0 is an important asset for CBS TV Studios as it has a rich off-network syndication deal and is a strong international seller. The new overall deal secures Lenkov’s leadership on the show for the next two seasons and also calls for him to develop new projects for network and cable. This past season, he re-teamed with Kurtzman and Orci to develop high-concept drama Salvation, which sold to CBS.
CBS and CBS Television Studios have signed three talent holding deals with performers from the CBS’ 9th annual Diversity Comedy Showcase, held on January 22nd and 23rd. One of them, with Upright Citizens Brigade’s Drew Tarver, already resulted in his casting as a lead in CBS’ comedy pilot How I Met Your Dad. The other two comedy performers signed in talent deals are Haneefah Wood, who has appeared in the Broadway productions of Rent, Avenue Q, and Brooklyn; and Nico Santos, a recurring panelist on Chelsea Lately. Additionally, another performer in the showcase, which is open to the community, Chloe Wepper, landed a regular role on the ABC comedy pilot My Thoughts Exactly.
Film and TV producer Dan Jinks has signed a new two-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios. Under the previous pact, Jinks’ first solo TV deal, he developed and executive produced the studio’s CW drama series Emily Owens, MD. “I couldn’t be happier working with (CBS TV Studios president) David Stapf and his sensational team,” Jinks said. Before setting up his Dan Jinks Co. at CBS TV Studios in 2011, Jinks was partnered with Bruce Cohen for 12 years, the last six of them under a deal at Warner Bros TV where the duo executive produced ABC’s Pushing Daisies and Traveler and Lifetime’s Side Order Of Life. Jinks and Cohen won an Oscar for their first movie, American Beauty, and also produced Big Fish, which they are currently producing for Broadway.
Neal H. Moritz has signed an overall deal with CBS Television Studios for his Original Film banner. Under the pact, Moritz and Vivian Cannon will develop and executive produce one-hour and half-hour series projects. In TV, Original was previously based at Sony, where Moritz also has a long-standing relationship on the feature side. Through Sony TV, Moritz and Cannon most recently executive produced Showtime’s The Big C and NBC’s Save Me. Moritz previously executive produced the Fox/20th drama Prison Break. In features Moritz, producer of the hit Fast And Furious franchise, has the upcoming R.I.P.D. starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. He is repped by UTA for television and attorney Howard Abramson.
EXCLUSIVE: Michael Koryta, whose recent novels have been stirring up film deals, has just sold another one for a television series. CBS Television Studios has acquired A Welcome Grave and will develop the private eye storyline for a series that will be produced by the Kennedy/Marshall Company.
A Welcome Grave is the third book in Michael Koryta’s award-winning Lincoln Perry series, and follows the private investigator as he finds himself in the crosshairs of two police investigations when an old rival is brutally murdered.
Koryta’s latest novel, The Prophet, was recently acquired by Nick Wechsler, with Magic Mike‘s Reid Carolin adapting the feature. Koryta is in the middle of adapting his own novel, So Cold The River, as a feature for New Regency. Koryta was represented by Angela Cheng Caplan on behalf of Inkwell Management’s David Hale Smith and attorney Lawrence Rose.
Kathleen Kennedy And Frank Marshall Sign Overall Deal With CBS TV Studios, Get Pilot Commitment From CBS
Top feature producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall are making a foray into television with a two-year overall deal at CBS Television Studios, which also includes a pilot commitment from sister network CBS. This marks the first overall TV deal for the duo’s Kennedy/Marshall Company, whose only previous TV pact was a first-look agreement at CBS in the 1990s.
Kennedy/Marshall’s TV development will be led by CBS veteran Robert Zotnowski, former co-head of the network’s drama department who left in 2009 to head TV development for Sam Raimi’s Stars Road Entertainment. “Kathleen and Frank are truly gifted filmmakers with a resume that reads like a gold standard of box office success and award-winning and culturally relevant projects,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said. “We are excited to develop with them and reunite with Robert Zotnowski, one of our favorite CBS alumni.” Added CBS TV Studios president David Stapf, “Kathleen and Frank are the type of producers you dream about having on your roster. They have it all — commercial success, artistic acclaim and a passion for attracting and working with the best creative talent in the business.” CBS TV Studios’ collaboration with another feature producing duo, Cathy Conrad and James Mangold, resulted in a new series for fall, CBS’ Vegas starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis.
EXCLUSIVE: Showtime has put in development The Damned, a drama series project based on independent graphic novel and comic book publisher Oni Press’ comic book limited series. It will be written by feature writer David Hayter, who has co-penned several big-screen comic book adaptations: X-Men, X2 and Watchmen. Oni Press’ sister company Closed on Mondays Entertainment, the Littlefield Co. and CBS Television Studios are producing. The Damned is described as a modern adaptation of the comic, written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt. It will revolve around Eddie, a cursed man who is stuck in the middle of a turf war in modern-day Chicago where mobsters are demons. Eddie must play all the angles to keep the warring families at bay while trying to reclaim his soul. Hayter, Closed on Mondays’ Eric Gitter and Warren Littlefield executive produce with Joe Nozemack and Andy Bourne also producing. Oni Press and Closed on Mondays are repped by WME and David Guillod Management; Littlefield is with CAA; Hayter is with UTA.
EXCLUSIVE: A couple of weeks ago, Deadline reported that USA Network was finalizing a series pickup of the comedic buddy cop comedy Common Law. And now it has: USA has ordered 11 episodes to begin production next month in New Orleans. The twist on the cop series stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole, who play wildly different personalities who are the elite team in the LAPD homicide squad until their constant bickering gets them put on probation. To fix their problems, their captain (Jack McGee) sends them to couples therapy. Common Law, from CBS Television Studios and Junction Entertainment, is executive produced by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. Jon Turteltaub and Craig Sweeny are executive producers. Junction’s Dan Shotz and Karim Zreik are co-executive producers. Turteltaub directed the pilot. ”When CBS Television Studios sent us the script of Common Law, we immediately fell in love with the writing, the characters and the premise,” USA Network co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber said. “We’re very lucky to have the Wibberleys, Jon and Craig guiding the process on this show; and with Michael and Warren, we have two stars who bring out the best in each other.” Common Law was one of three cast-contingent pilots ordered by USA last summer, along with Necessary Roughness and Suits (formerly A Legal Mind). The other two have already been picked up to series.
EXCLUSIVE: Olé, the TV production company launched in September by director Richard Shepard and producers Sean Furst & Bryan Furst, is putting down roots at CBS Television Studios with an exclusive two-year deal. The studio had been handling Olé’s development under Shepard’s overall deal there. Now the two sides have formalized their relationship with a pod agreement. Shepard, an Emmy winner for directing the pilot for ABC’s Ugly Betty, most recently directed the pilot for Ringer, the upcoming CW series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar produced by CBS Studios. He also directed the pilots for the CBS Studios co-produced Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. “I’ve had a great run at CBS Television Studios,” says Shepard. “And the fact that they are so supportive of all my interests makes continuing and expanding the relationship with our producing company Olé a no-brainer.”
Shepard and the Fursts met on the Pierce Brosnan-starring film The Matador, which the Fursts produced and Shepard wrote and directed, and then worked together again on the HBO documentary I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale before forming Olé. Within weeks, the company set up two projects, including the Shepard-written Corkscrew, which was sold to Showtime. Under the new deal, the Olé partners will “focus heavily on getting entertaining, character-driven shows on the air,” Sean and Bryan Furst said.
After launching two Onion-branded cable series this year, the satiric news organization is setting its sights on broadcast next. The Onion, best known for its fake-news newspaper and Web site, has signed a one-year first-look development deal with CBS Television Studios. Under the pact, The Onion’s creative team will develop ideas for non-Onion-branded broadcast comedy series as well as online series for CBS Interactive’s digital properties. “We’re looking forward to the creative challenge and, in fact, we’ve already come up with several exciting ideas, including 3 and a Half Men, 12 Men and Three-Quarters, and 72.683 Women,” said Joe Randazzo, Editor of The Onion. “This new relationship with CBS will hopefully allow us to take fraction-based comedy to new heights.” Added The Onion’s general manager Mitch Semel. “Also, it’s nice to be able to check off ‘Phase 4’ in our seven-part plan to take over the world by 2014. … Here’s hoping those oil prices continue to rise.” While taking over the world is highly dubious, a TV takeover would not be that far-fetched if the CBS Studios deal results in a broadcast series for the 2012-13 season. The Onion currently has two shows on the air: Onion News Network on IFC, which has already been renewed for a second season, and Onion SportsDome on Comedy Central, which is awaiting word after completing its freshman season.
UPDATE 12 PM: CBS TV Studios just issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit, “Don Bellisario has no rights to what he is claiming in this suit. The contract is clear, the facts are undeniable and the courts won’t need Naval intelligence to conclude that the case has no merit. We continue to honor all of our obligations to Mr. Bellisario under the actual agreement.”
EXCLUSIVE 10:40 AM: A 20-year successful partnership between a top TV producer and a major studio may end up in court. This morning, JAG and NCIS creator Don Bellisario is filing a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the series’ producer CBS TV Studios over offshoot NCIS: Los Angeles. The complaint, which you can read here, is being filed at Los Angeles Superior Court by Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg.
Bellisario, who was let go from NCIS in 2007 after star Mark Harmon threatened to quit the show, has not been involved in the successful spinoff series which was developed the following year and launched in fall 2009 and has not received a penny from it. The filing aims to rectify that, claiming that under Bellisario’s contracts with CBS TV Studios and its predecessors, Bellisario had a right of “first opportunity” “to participate creatively in economically in the development” of any “new spinoffs, sequels or remakes” of any series he had created for the studio as long as he worked on the …
After 16 years at NBC – 5 on ER and 11 on Law & Order: SVU – Neal Baer is heading to CBS. In a competitive situation, Baer has signed a three-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios. The pact, said to be in the high-seven figures, includes development as well as showrunner services. It starts on June 2, a day after Baer’s contract on SVU expires. Baer has been the executive producer/showrunner on SVU since the series’ second season. With him departing and the deals of stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni up at the end of this season, the future of the veteran NBC crime drama is in limbo.
CBS has promoted its top PR executives at the network and the studio. Phil Gonzales has been upped to SVP communications for CBS Entertainment and Lauri Metrose to SVP communications for CBS Television Studios. They continue to report to Chris Ender, SVP communications, CBS. Metrose has been VP communications at CBS Television Studios since 2005 where she has led campaigns for such series as NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods and also spearheaded the successful Emmy campaign for The Good Wife his year. Gonzales, who joined CBS Entertainment in 2004 as VP communications from Warner Bros. TV, has overseen the network’s publicity campaigns for the three CSI series, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds and The Mentalist as well as CBS’ freshman class this fall led by Hawaii Five-0 and Mike & Molly.