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.“ Read More »
Michael McDonald, a standout performer for a decade on the Fox series Mad TV, has joined the cast of the 20th Century Fox Paul Feig-directed buddy comedy The Heat, which stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. He will play a villain. Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Dylan Clark are producing. This comes after McDonald signed a new blind script deal to develop a one hour show with ABC Studios. After his Mad TV run, McDonald has been working behind the scenes, creating and exec producing the hourlong drama spec script pilot Beautiful People for NBC last season. McDonald worked as a director, co-executive producer and writer on ABC’s Cougar Town and will continue directing episodes of the show this season after it moved to TBS. He will also helm episodes of the new ABC sitcoms Family Tools and How To Live With Your Parents For the Rest of Your Life. He’s repped by UTA.
EXCLUSIVE: Emmy-winning helmer Stephen Hopkins has been tapped to direct NBC’s futuristic drama pilot Beautiful People. The project, written by Cougar Town co-executive producer/director/actor Michael McDonald, is set in the near future in a society where humans co-exist with mechanical androids that look like people but are treated like second-class citizens. Beautiful People, which Mad TV alum McDonald originally wrote 10 years ago, is co-produced by ABC Studios and Universal TV. Hopkins has directed the pilots for such series as Fox’s 24, Showtime’s Californication and the network’s upcoming House Of Lies.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has given a pilot order to Beautiful People, a character-driven futuristic drama spec by Cougar Town co-executive producer/director (and occasional actor) Michael McDonald. ABC Studios and Universal TV are producing. Beautiful People is described as an imaginative and thematically rich ensemble “what if” drama set 10 minutes into the future where families of mechanical human beings exist to service the human population… that is until some of the mechanicals begin to “awaken.” UPDATE: ABC Studios has released an updated logline for the project: “Set in the near future, Beautiful People is about a society where humans co-exist with mechanical androids that look like us but are treated like second-class citizens.” Former Mad TV co-star McDonald wrote Beautiful People 10 years ago. About two-and-a-half years ago, the script was set up at ABC and ABC Studios. ABC ended up passing on it, but ABC Studios kept rights to the spec, which was recently taken out with the studio attached. Beautiful People will mark NBC’s third off-cycle pilot order this season, along with comedies Isabel and Save Me, which are now casting. Additionally, the J.J. Abrams/Eric Kripke adventure thriller Revolution and crime drama Blue Tilt have pilot production commitments at the network. Beautiful People marks the first major foray into drama for actor-writer-director McDonald, who directs half of the episodes of ABC’s Cougar Town each season. UTA-repped McDonald also directed a slew of episodes of Bill Lawrence’s previous … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After Paul Lee rearranged his top programming executives in June, ABC and ABC Studios have now made more tweaks to their teams. The biggest one — Michael McDonald is being promoted to SVP drama development for ABC Studios and will head the studio’s drama department. The post had been vacant since June when previous drama topper Patrick Moran was elevated to Head of Creative Development for the studio as part of the executive restructuring. McDonald, whose deal is still being finalized, most recently served as VP drama current series for ABC Studios. With his promotion, both ABC’s drama and comedy departments are heading into the new development season with new leaders. Amy Hartwick was named SVP comedy development for the studio in June.
ABC Studios’ drama department is getting additional reinforcement: Emily Cummins, formerly of Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road, is joining as VP drama development. Spike TV’s highest-ranking scripted executive, Dustin Davis, will be joining ABC as director in the network’s current department. (Spike’s other scripted exec, Laurence Sullivan, already left for Conan O’Brien’s Conaco production company as the cable network is putting scripted development on hold.) Also in ABC’s current department, Karin Dubiel is being promoted from coordinator to manager. Meanwhile, Zack Olin, executive director current programming for ABC, has moved to ABC Studio’s comedy development department as executive director. Read More »