EXCLUSIVE: In their first overall deal, Matt Corman and Chris Ord, creators/executive producers of USA Network’s hit globe-trotting spy drama Covert Affairs, have inked a pact with the studio behind the series, Universal Cable Prods. The …
EXCLUSIVE: Producers Lawrence Bender (Inglorious Basterds) and Kevin Brown (Roswell) have signed a development deal with Universal Cable Prods. for their Bender Brown banner. Under the pact, the duo will shepherd projects for cable as well as broadcast for UCP, which has evolved from a production arm of USA Network and SyFy to a studio that supplies all cable and broadcast nets. For the past few years Bender Brown had been independent after a stint at Warner Bros. TV where the company produced CBS drama Dr. Vegas among other projects. It has done pilots for TNT, the CW and Lifetime and enjoyed its independence but “having a single studio partner is very exciting,” Brown said. “We have done everything from fantastical drama to multi-camera comedy, so the idea that there is a one studio like UCP that does all kinds of programming and sells all over town was very appealing”.
Added Bender, “USA Network is now starting to get into comedy, and that’s a real priority for us”. Brown’s long-time relationship with UCP SVP Richard Rothstein played an important role in making the deal, which started with a call by Rothstein to Bender and Brown’s WME agent. Five years ago, as an executive at UCP corporate sibling Universal Media Studios Rothstein developed a project with Bender and Brown. The duo also have a strong relationship with UCP sibling Syfy where they produced the 2004 miniseries Earthsea. Bender and Brown will work with UCP’s development team – SVPs Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro – who oversee the studio’s development for USA, Syfy and external networks, respectively. “Lawrence and Kevin have the creative DNA – great ideas, a wide variety of genres and strong talent relationships – that goes perfectly with our diverse slate of projects and the type of production company we’re building at UCP”, Rothstein said.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Cable Productions has signed singer-songwriter John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Company to an exclusive pod deal to develop series for cable and broadcast networks. Under the pact, the nine-time Grammy winner and his partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius will work closely with UCP’s development team – SVPs Richard Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro – who oversee the studio’s development for USA Network, Syfy and external networks, respectively.
The deal marks Legend’s first formal foray into the television series business. He called it “next step forward in building Get Lifted.” UCP has been very selective with its pod deals. Get Lifted joins a handful of other companies that have deals with the studio, including Hypnotic, which produces UCP’s USA dramas Covert Affairs and Suits and recently produced the studio’s critically acclaimed MTV comedy I Just Want My Pants Back for MTV; Tagline, which produces the long-running USA/UCP dramedy Psych, and recent roster addition, Gale Anne Hurd’s company Valhalla Entertainment (The Walking Dead).
EXCLUSIVE: Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment has inked an exclusive pod deal with Universal Cable Prods. This marks the first overall TV deal for Valhalla, which will develop and produce projects for both cable and broadcast networks, including UCP’s NBCUniversal siblings USA and Syfy. The agreement builds on the success Valhalla has had with its first primetime series, AMC’s smash The Walking Dead, which Hurd executive produces. Under the deal, Hurd and her executives will work with UCP’s development team — SVPs Richard Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro — who oversee the studio’s development for USA, Syfy and external networks, respectively. The trio noted that Valhalla “shares our creative commitment, passion for great stories and desire to produce efficiently.” Hurd, who has not worked with USA and Syfy, pointed to UCP’s decision last year to expand into producing for broadcast in addition to cable. “We have double the opportunity to create a diverse slate of projects,” she said.
Jeff Kwatinetz’s Prospect Park has sold 3 more series projects to USA, Fox and ABC Family. That brings the total number of shows the company has set up this year to 18. Prospect Parks’ latest projects, which have received scripted commitments, are all produced by Universal Cable Prods., extending the two companies’ existing relationship as co-producers of USA’s hit series Royal Pains. To complete the reunion, Prospect Park/UCP’ ABC Family project, a father-daughter drama set in the Governor’s office, is executive produced by Royal Pains co-creator/exec producer Andrew Lenchewski who has an overall deal with UCP. Prospect Park’s project for USA is an untitled action procedural from John Scott Shepherd (Life Or Something Like It). At Fox, the company has Home Court, a half-hour comedy from Frasier alum Saladin Patterson, who serves as a co-executive producer on UCP’s dramedy for USA Psych. This is UCP’s fourth script sale to Fox this season, along with Jason Tracey/Hypnotic’s Metropolitan, Zaken & Baxter/Hypnotic’s One Great Life; and a blind script by Laurie Silverstein. Here are descriptions of Prospect Park’s projects with UCP:
Universal Cable Prods To Produce First Project For Broadcast Sibling NBC: Elmore Leonard Adaptation By ‘Numbers’ Creators
EXCLUSIVE: In its first development season as a broadcast player, Universal Cable Prods has sold two projects, including one to corporate sibling NBC. The NBC project hails from Numbers creators Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton as well as Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’s UCP-based production company Hypnotic. It is based on a short story from Elmore Leonard’s anthology When the Women Come Out To Dance, the book that also features the short story Fire In The Hole that FX’s series Justified is based on. The NBC project centers on a Colombian mail-order bride who finds herself working as a “fixer” in South Miami as she struggles to escape her troubled past. It joins UCP’s Jason Tracey-penned detective drama Metropolitan, also from Hypnotic, which recently sold to Fox. And there are a few more broadcast pitches in various stages, said UCP’s SVP Maira Suro, who oversees the studio’s development for networks other than the UCP-affiliated USA and Syfy. This is part of the recent strategy implemented by UCP and NBC-affiliated Universal Television to each become a full-service TV studio supplying broadcast and cable networks. UCP and Universal TV (formerly Universal Media Studios) were part of one NBC Universal TV production entity, UMS, that was developing for both broadcast and cable until 2008 when UCP was spun off from UMS and cable and broadcast production was split up between the two.
For UPC, supplying NBC is a priority, Suro said. “For us, part of our expansion, along with selling to other cable and broadcast networks, is serving our sister network NBC,” she said. “If we can be in any way part of the network’s success and help its turnaround, that would be fantastic and a win-win.” As for making the transition from producing for cable, where budgets on average are lower, to broadcast, “I’m sure there will be some adjustments but we are not chasing the broadcast model,” said Suro, whose development team includes Stacey Levin, Garrett Kemble and Stephanie Albrycht. “We are very selective in the projects we take out and are doing them efficiently, so we are confident that we can execute them in the same way we do our successful cable series.” “We won’t be taking out a show like Terra Nova,” she added, referring to Fox’s big-budget, live-action/CGI prehistoric drama. One thing the company will need in reinventing itself as a full-fledged studio is to change its name from Universal Cable Prods.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY PM: Syfy has settled on one extra episode of Eureka to wrap things up. That’s final. I hear Syfy executives called the cast today to apologize for the conflicting decisions over the past week, which included a six-episode final-season order, followed by no-final-season announcement and then the additional episode pickup. Word is the six-episode order was overruled by the new post-merger management as the series is getting expensive after 5 seasons and has enough episodes in the can (19). I hear most affected are some crew members who turned down job offers last week when Eureka was picked up for 6 more episodes only to see that order rescinded.
PREVIOUS MONDAY PM: Last week, we scooped Syfy’s plan to end its series Eureka with a final six-episode Season 6 order. Back then, Syfy wouldn’t even confirm that the series was ending, saying in a statement that “although we do not have a commitment beyond six episodes for the sixth season, we are hopeful that this will not be the end of the franchise.” Well, that has now changed. Not only is Eureka being canceled, Syfy has also reversed its decision on ordering a final six-episode season. I hear the change of heart was made high up based on financial reasons. Eureka, starring Collin Ferguson and Salli Richardson-Whitfield, has had OK ratings, with its current Season 4.5 premiering last month to 2 million total viewers, 893,000 of them in the adults 18-49 category. Created by Andrew Cosby and Jaime Paglia and produced by Universal Cable Prods, Eureka is now in production on its 13-episode Season 5 order. With filming coming to an end in only two weeks, I hear the producers are begging for a way to properly end the show. Here is Syfy’s statement:
Royal Pains executive producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch have signed new two-year overall deals with Universal Cable Prods., which includes their exec producer services on the USA medical dramedy for Season 3 and 4 as well as development. Royal Pains, which was recently renewed for Season 3, averaged 7.3 million …