Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon has signed a two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. Gordon already has an existing relationship with the TV studio — he is the co-creator/executive producer of the Sony/Happy Madison-produced Fox comedy series Breaking In, which was recently renewed for a second season. Gordon directed 3 of the 7 episodes from the series’ first season, including the pilot and the season finale. Gordon, who co-created Breaking In with writer Adam F. Goldberg, will continue to serve as an executive producer on the Christian Slater-starring comedy in season 2 while also developing new projects for Sony TV. Additionally, Gordon is reuniting with Goldberg and Happy Madison. He has come on board to direct the untitled 1980s family comedy Goldberg has in development at Fox with Happy Madison and Sony TV producing.
20th Century Fox TV continues to lock in the senior writers of its CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother. The studio has signed a two-year overall deal with the show’s executive producer Stephen Lloyd. Under the pact, he will continue as executive producer on HIMYM, created, executive produced and ran by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. Additionally, he will also develop original projects for the studio. “Stephen has been a very important part of How I Met Your Mother,” 20th TV chairman Dana Walden said. “He has been critical to Carter and Craig; he has provided a lot of the heart of the stories, he is an excellent writer and a pleasure to work with.” Lloyd’s deal follows the overall pact another veteran How I Met Your Mother writer-producer, Kourtney Kang, recently signed with 20th TV. (Bays and Thomas are in the middle of a rich long-term overall deal.) “Part of the goal over this past summer was to make sure that the key part on the writing staff were given deals that will make them available to continue on the show while also developing,” Walden said. Is this strategy to shore up HIMYM so Bays and Thomas can focus on the development this season?
EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer Brett Ratner has closed a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television where he has been based for the past 7 years. He is being joined by former NBC development executive-turned-producer Chris Conti, who will serve as president of Ratner’s Rat TV. “It’s impossible not to love Brett,” 20th TV chairman Dana Walden said. “He is a great entertainer, has such love for the business and has the most commercial sense of any creative person I’ve ever worked with.” She praised Ratner for directing the pilot for the Fox drama Prison Break, which “helped reestablish what the 20th Century Fox TV brand is around the world.”
But for the past 7 years, Ratner has directed only one other 20th TV pilot that has gone to series, CBS’ short-lived CIA dramedy Chaos. He has developed and produced a total of 3 series, Prison Break, Chaos and ABC’s Women’s Murder Club. That is mainly because Ratner has been busy working on a wide range of other projects, from directing and producing features, to producing documentaries and TV specials to now producing the Academy Awards. Bringing a seasoned development executive like Conti is expected to keep development and production at Rat TV going full-speed even when Ratner is not around. “Chris is bringing a lot of formidable relationships in the community and will be able to focus Brett in a meaningful and successful way,” Walden said.
EXCLUSIVE: While the fate of the on-screen boss on NBC’s flagship comedy series The Office is still in limbo, the near future of show’s behind-the-scenes boss is set: The Office showrunner/executive producer Paul Lieberstein has signed a three-year overall deal with series producer NBC Universal Studios. Under the pact, Lieberstein will continue to run the comedy, working closely with The Office developer/executive producer Greg Daniels. Later in the life of the deal, Lieberstein’s first overall, he is expected to develop new projects. But for the time being, he will be focused entirely on The Office, which is undergoing a major transition following the recent departure of original star Steve Carell. “This show has changed my life,” Lieberstien said. “As a writer I’ve never felt so creatively fulfilled, I really feel like I’m writing exactly what I’ve wanted to write in terms of exploring everyday life. And it made me an actor, which I never suspected I’d do.”
Lieberstein, who plays Human Resources Director Toby Flenderson on The Office, became an accidental actor as part of an experiment by Daniels, who felt that the writers on the show would do a better job writing for the cast if they themselves experienced what it is like to be an actor with bit guest parts on the show. Lieberstein appeared in the second episode in a stint that was never meant to go further. But when then-NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly saw dailies from the episode, “he thought I was funny and wanted more of me,” Lieberstein said.
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura Launches Television Company With Dan McDermott, Signs 3-Year Deal With ABC Studios
EXCLUSIVE: Feature producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura is planting his flag in TV in a big way. He has partnered with writer-producer Dan McDermott to launch Di Bonaventura Pictures Television, a TV production company that will be based at ABC Studios with a three-year overall deal. Di Bonaventura said he had always wanted to be in television but “felt I needed to establish my worth as a producer in features first.” Nine years and two tentpole movie franchises (Transformers, G.J. Joe) later, di Bonaventura started to explore the idea of a TV company with CAA, which put Di Bonaventura Pictures TV together and will represent the company.
‘Family Album’ Creators Joe Port And Joe Wiseman Ink Overall Deal With 20th TV, Join ‘New Girl’; ‘Album’ To Film Second Episode
Comedy writer-producers Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, creators of the 20th Century Fox TV-produced comedy pilot Family Album, have signed a two-year overall deal with the studio. Under the pact, the two will join New Girl, 20th TV’s hot new comedy series for Fox, as co-executive producers. Additionally, their pilot Family Album is in strong contention at Fox for midseason. Along with another half-hour pilot, Little In Common, Family Album is vying for a spot on the network’s four-show comedy block in March. To further boost the project’s chances, 20th TV has agreed to produce a second episode, which Port and Wiseman are currently working on. Family Album, which 20th TV co-produces with Marty Adelstein and Shawn Levy’s studio-based 21 Laps/Adelstein Prods., stemmed from a blind script deal the studio signed with Port and Wiseman last year. “Having dated for a while, we all collectively wanted to take this relationship to the next level,” 20th TV chairman Gary Newman said. “They have the inspiration to create their owns show and also have the right demeanor to be able to fit into a show and support other creators when they don’t have anything going on.”
Terra Nova executive producer/showrunner Rene Echevarria has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind the upcoming pre-historic drama series, which recently scored high marks in network testings of the pilot. Under the two-year, seven-figure pact, he will continue to run Terra Nova, which is set to begin production on the remaining episodes of its 13-episode order on June 1 in Australia. The deal also includes potential development but, at least for the time being, he is expected to focus on Terra Nova full-time. Echevarria has a resume that features both sci-fi and character-driven shows, and 20th TV chairman Gary Newman called him “probably the perfect person to assume leadership of Terra Nova,” which he described as a compelling family drama with action and special effects. “This is the most ambitious special effect show ever done in television, which shoots on the other end of the world, so it requires somebody with the maturity, leadership and strength that Rene possesses,” Newman said.
EXCLUSIVE: Actor Ryan Reynolds and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps writer Allan Loeb have launched a TV company together. The company, DarkFire, will be based at 20th Century Fox TV with a two-year first-look deal. The company will focus on developing comedy projects, primarily single-camera and mostly for the broadcast networks, with Loeb himself set to write at least one pilot script a year. DarkFire’s name blends the monikers of Reynolds’ shingle with producing partner Jonathon Komack Martin, Dark Trick Films, and Loeb’s company with partner Steven Pearl, Scarlet Fire. Martin and Pearl will run DarkFire, which also will hire a dedicated TV executive as the two will continue to be involved in their separate companies’ film business.
EXCLUSIVE: Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, who wrote the upcoming Justin Timberlake-Cameron Diaz feature comedy Bad Teacher, are returning to television with a rich two-year overall deal at ABC Studios. Additionally, the duo is reuniting with Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan and studio Sony for a new feature comedy they will be writing and Kasdan directing. Details on the plot are being kept under wraps, but it is a romantic comedy.
In a new business reality dominated by “showveralls,” overall deals tied to services on a show, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg’s pact with ABC Studios is a rare pure development deal, paying the duo seven figures a year to exclusively generate new projects through their company Quantity Entertainment. I hear there was interest in them from several studios, with Stupnitsky and Eisenberg opting to go to ABC Studios because of a series idea they have that they feel would fit ABC. Before segueing to features full-time last year, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg spent five seasons on NBC’s The Office, rising to co-executive producers, writing 18 episodes and directing two. (One of their episodes earned the duo a writing Emmy nom in 2008.) While on the show, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg wrote three features: the Jack Black-Michael Cera comedy Year One, Bad Teacher and the long-gestating Ivan Reitman-directed Ghostbusters 3, which hinges on Bill Murray committing to return.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning writer-director Stephen Gaghan just turned in his first TV pilot, an untitled Los Angeles drama at NBC (formerly knows as SILA). Now Gaghan has signed his first TV overall deal with the studio producing the pilot, 20th Century Fox TV. Under the two-year pact, Gaghan will continue to oversee the NBC show if it goes to series and will develop other projects through his newly named Unsupervised TV production company, which will be run by Suzanne Joskow. He already has two projects in very early stages for Fox, a Washington, DC drama and an animated comedy.
Gaghan said he knew he wanted to be a writer when he was 7, much to the chagrin of his mother, who gave him the example of his writing/drinking grandfather, a newspaper journalist and music critic. “You’ll live in misery and you’ll go, and by that I mean you’ll die,” she told him. Gaghan was on track to fulfill his mom’s prophesy when he was kicked out of high school his senior year for driving a go-kart through the school’s administrative offices.
After months of negotiations, NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles executive producer/showrunner Shane Brennan has signed a new three-year, low-eight-figure deal with the CBS TV Studios. Additionally, the studio has inked a three-year, seven-figure overall deal with NCIS executive producer Gary Glasberg.
Brennan, who joined NCIS at the beginning of Season 4 in 2006 and was tapped as showrunner the following season, also created the spinoff NCIS:LA and for the past two seasons has been running both series. Under his new deal, he will continue to serve as an executive producer on both shows and will serve as full-time showrunner on NCIS: LA. Glasberg, who joined NCIS in 2009, will take over day-to-day showrunner duties on the mothership series after having been groomed for the role by Brennan for the past 2 seasons. Brennan’s deal also includes a development component. “Looking forward, I have a lot of stories to tell, but the focus will be on continuing the success of NCIS and NCIS: LA,” Brennan said. The Australian-born writer-producer admitted that returning home, where he has a family, had been on the back of his mind during the renegotiations with CBS Studios but added that “leaving wasn’t a real option.” “I’m very grateful to CBS who took a big risk with me when I took over NCIS, so staying with them was crlearly the best thing to do.”
EXCLUSIVE: Burn Notice creator, executive producer and showrunner Matt Nix has signed a new two-year high-seven-figure overall deal with Fox TV Studios, the company behind the hit USA Network series. The pact, which has an option for a third year, will cover Nix’s services as showrunner of the upcoming fifth and sixth seasons of Burn Notice, which was given a two-season pickup last April. Additionally, Nix is expected to develop new projects for FtvS. He proved he can juggle running two series at the same time last year when his cop dramedy The Good Guys was picked up to series at Fox, first for the summer and then also for the fall. Over the course of the year, Nix oversaw 20 episodes of The Good Guys and 18 episodes of Burn Notice‘s fourth season. Additionally, he jumped in to write and executive produce the Burn Notice USA movie prequel, Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, which was announced in the idea stage at last year’s Comic-Con in July. Nix quickly wrote the script while working on his two series, and in November, the movie was greenlighted with Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan directing. The Bruce Campbell-starring Sam Axe, which premiered last night on USA, comes out on DVD July 26. The fifth season of Burn Notice premieres June 23.
EXCLUSIVE: After six years at CBS TV Studios, writer-producer Carol Barbee is moving to 20th Century Fox TV with a seven-figure overall deal. Under the pact, which starts in June, Barbee will join Touch, the studio’s drama pilot starring Kiefer Sutherland. On the project, co-produced by 20th TV-based Chernin Entertainment, Barbee will serve as an executive producer alongside creator/executive producer Tim Kring.
Barbee and Kring first met a decade ago on the NBC drama Providence, where Barbee landed her first writing job and Kring served as a co-executive producer. They kept in touch, but overall deals at separate studios (CBS Studios for Barbee, UMS for Kring) made a collaboration impossible. Then earlier this year, just as her deal at CBS was coming up, Kring approached Barbee about partnering with him on Touch, a pilot he had at Fox about a father who discovers that his autistic, mute son is communicating with him through a complex series of numbers and may be able to predict events before they happen. “It was very ambitious and emotional,” Barbee said of the script. “I love the idea of how we all are connected, we all are one, and the idea of the special-needs child at the heart of the story is very touching to me as a mother.” Despite being drawn to the project, Barbee was not sure she could do it because she still had a few more months on her CBS deal. But then Sutherland was cast in Touch and, because of his Broadway commitment, production on the pilot was pushed to June, after the end of Barbee’s current pact. “The whole thing worked out seamlessly,” she said. “I had an amazing time at CBS, and I’m very thankful for everything they’ve done for me and all they’ve allowed me to do. Now I’m very excited to go on a new adventure with new people. I really connected with everyone at 20th TV and FBC, and I’m excited to be working again with Tim Kring.”