Universal Cable Productions has signed exclusive development deals with Steve Carell’s Carousel Television and Jessica Biel’s Iron Ocean Productions. Both companies already are developing projects with the studio. Carousel has a an untitled drama about the onset of Hollywood’s golden age, focusing on actual Hollywood events and characters dating back 100 years. Iron Ocean is working on two projects. Pop Culture — written by Melissa Hilfers and executive produced by Royal Pains‘ Michael Rauch, who is under an overall deal at UCP – centers on a bachelor living the high life in NYC who has a sudden change of heart after babysitting his nephew. He hires an aspiring actress to play his wife, and things get complicated when he finds himself falling for her. Moguls, penned by Geoff Moore & David Posmentier, is a half-hour workplace comedy about the eccentric twentysomethings employed at a family-owned Colorado ski resort whose way of life is challenged when the mountain is purchased by a corporate behemoth.
I’ve learned that Universal Cable Prods. VP Tom Lieber is leaving the company. Under UCP’s previous management structure, development was split to three areas — projects for USA, overseen by SVP Richard Rothstein, for Syfy, headed by Lieber, and for …
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Cable Productions has tapped top TV producer Dawn Parouse Olmstead (Prison Break) to lead its development team as the studio is looking to ramp up operations. Meanwhile, UCP’s SVP Development & Current Programming, Richard Rothstein, will be in charge of the studio’s current scripted series. This marks the first major executive move for Jeff Wachtel, President and Chief Content Officer at NBCU Cable Entertainment, since the former USA Network co-president moved into his new role in September. Both Olmstead, who is taking on a title of EVP Development, and Rothstein will report to him. “It’s a real coup for us to land a creative producer at Dawn’s level to spearhead our newly escalating effort to create and own original content,” Wachtel said. “She is one of the smartest and most focused producers I’ve ever met, and she is the perfect person to take our in house scripted studio to the next level.” Wachtel also stressed the increasing need for centralized oversight of UCP’s growing slate of existing series, currently approaching a dozen. “Richard has been a key member of the team that has created one of the best series-to-success ratios in the business.”
The latest project in development at Starz joins recent additions WonderWorld, an hourlong scripted drama from Owen Wilson, Rene Balcer, Fred Berner, and Regina Lee about two straight-arrow FBI agents who infiltrate the violent Mob-controlled porn industry of the 1980s; and Most Wanted, a drama project from writer Chris Collins, director Ken Fink and author Dan Chaon. Set in the Great Plains during the 1970s, it traces the rise and demise of Nate Daniels, a talented and prolific bank robber who finds himself on a collision course with his family and crew as he becomes one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. The pay network recently promoted Melissa Harper and Richter Hartig to SVPs in Original Programming Production who had been credited with the increase in original programming production in their roles as VPs. Here’s today’s release:
Beverly Hills, Calif. – November 5, 2013 – Starz Managing Director, Carmi Zlotnik, announced today that STARZ has put into development a new half-hour scripted dramedy, “Heartbeats,” from Hypnotic’s Doug Liman and Dave Bartis, Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and writers Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan. “Heartbeats” is an intimate glimpse into the constantly intersecting and diverging lives of Bobby and Kristen; two down-to-Earth individuals who would be perfect for each other, if only they had met at a different time. “Heartbeats” will explore their story with an episode format that focuses alternatingly on Bobby and Kristen.
‘Royal Pains’ Andrew Lenchewski & Michael Rauch Ink New Overall Deals With Universal Cable Prods, Set Up Projects At USA
EXCLUSIVE: As production on the fifth season of USA Network hit Royal Pains begins, the series’ executive producers and showrunners Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch have renewed their individual overall deals with the studio behind it, Universal Cable Prods. Under the pacts, Lenchewski and Rauch will continue to oversee the series starring Mark Feuerstein. Additionally, Rauch and Lenchewski each have projects in development at USA.
Rauch will executive produce a family drama, written and co-executive produced by Ken Lin, following two brothers (one an ex-con, the other a small-town cop) who inherit their failing family business and turn it into a multibillion-dollar cult pyramid scheme. As they reunite and re-tie family bonds, they navigate the dangers inherent in selling the most addictive, seductive, and volatile substance in the world: hope. Lenchewski will executive produce and write drama American Confidential, in which a principled Secret Service agent is forced by the White House to cover up secret after secret. The show explores the toll that deception takes on him. UCP will produce with Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ studio-based pod Hypnotic. Additionally, Lenchewski executive produces previously announced USA half-hour single-camera comedy project Speak American, written/co-exec produced by Benjamin Brand.
Universal Cable Prods. SVP Maira Suro has exited the studio after a three-year stint. Suro headed development for external networks at UCP, leading the studio’s efforts over the past couple of years to expand its portfolio beyond sister nets USA and Syfy. They resulted in two series, MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back and Lifetime’s Against The Wall, which lasted a season each, as well as a slew of development projects at cable and broadcast networks, some of which are still active. In light of Suro’s exit, it is unclear whether UCP will stay in the business of selling to outside networks. Before joining UCP in 2010, Suro was SVP, West Coast series development, MTV Networks. She also worked for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Television.
In other development executive departures, Phil Breman is exiting his post as executive director, development for Disney Channel where he had been since 2008. I hear he is considering several options including one inside Disney.
Five of the projects are through Universal Cable Prods., where Tagline has a first-look deal and a long-term relationship through Psych, Tagline’s first series, which will hit the 100-episode mark in its upcoming seventh season on USA. Tagline’s new projects with the studio have been sold to both USA and outside networks as part of UCP’s mandate to become a supplier to all networks.
At ABC, the companies have The Lisa Jones Club, a drama with dark comedic overtones written and co-executive produced by Barbara Marshall (Terra Nova). The project, which was sold on spec, revolves around down-on-their-luck suburban wives who embark on a criminal spree to make ends meet. Marshall is with APA and Industry Entertainment.
Syfy has put in development Clandestine, a drama produced by Universal Cable Prods. Written by actor-writer Todd Stashwick and artist Dennis Calero, Clandestine is described as a swash-buckling space drama/adventure and revolves around mercenaries who masquerade as part of an Intergalactic fleet. John Shiban (Hell On Wheels) is supervising the script and is attached as executive producer, with Stashwick and Calero co-executive producing.
NBC has bought 33 1/3, a single-camera musical comedy from The Cleveland Show co-executive producer Kirker Butler. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, centers on a 33-year-old aspiring rock singer and single mother of a teenage girl who, after a humiliating failed marriage proposal, moves back into her mother’s basement where she must learn to deal with her opinionated gay slacker brother, an old crush who still lives next door, a mother with a medical marijuana card, and a head filled with a never-ending playlist of some of the best songs ever written. This marks the first network development for Butler, who worked on Family Guy before segueing to spinoff The Cleveland Show and penned the famous Star Wars parody episode. ICM-repped Butler is writing 33 1/3 and is executive producing with Aaron Kaplan.
Since NBC Universal’s TV studio Universal Media Studios spun off Universal Cable Prods in 2008, the mothership studio had been developing and producing pilots and series for NBC and occasionally for other broadcast networks, while UCP had been supplying affiliated USA Network and Syfy and, starting last year, other cable networks. But things started to change over the past few months. Like a starfish that regenerates into two whole sea stars when cut in half, UMS and UCP are each becoming a full-service TV studio supplying both broadcast and cable networks and could potentially compete with each other.
This spring, two drama projects developed by UMS that didn’t get pilot orders by NBC were taken out to cable networks by producers and agents with the studio’s permission. Both shows — a medical drama from writer Amy Holden Jones and the BermanBraun-produced 1-800-Autopsy, from writers Adam Armus & Kay Foster (Heroes) and based on a real-life guy who performs private autopsies — landed at Lifetime. But instead of handing them over to UCP, UMS kept the two dramas and plans to produce them if they go to pilot and series. “We are in the process of rebuilding the studio, and the strategy is to beef up studio operations,” one insider said. “We made projects we think we can produce for Lifetime at a good price and would have asset value for us as a third-party producer.” As an indication of the growing stature of UMS, which new NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt referred to as “our re-emerging studio” in announcing the three-year pod deal with Peter Traugott this morning, UMS is expected to get its own topper for the first time since Katherine Pope exited as part of a December 2008 executive shakeup. UMS is not at a stage of actively selling to third parties and will not seek out writers who develop specifically for cable. But if there are opportunistic projects in-house that would be right for cable and UMS can produce them in a way that would allow it to recoup its investment, the studio plans to go for it as long as the projects are first shopped to sibling networks USA and Syfy. That was done with the two medical dramas that ultimately went to Lifetime.
Had this expansion been in place two years ago, Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ Hypnotic may have stayed at UMS, where the company had been based for five years. Back then, a couple of Hypnotic’s projects got a pass at NBC. Liman and Bartis walked the street and set them up at USA and soon moved their company from UMS to UCP. One of those projects became the USA series Covert Affairs, which just started its second season. Another Hypnotic project originally developed for NBC was I Just Want My Pants Back, which recently went to series at MTV with UCP producing, the studio’s first series for a non-NBCU network. UCP, which also has a pilot starring Carrie-Anne Moss in contention at Lifetime, has its sights on broadcast next as it is looking to become a full-service studio producing for all cable and broadcast networks. “Our original focus is on cable,” UPC co-head and USA co-president Jeff Wachtel said. “But with our expanded roster — including Hypnotic, Steve Franks, Jack Kenny, Michael Rauch, Andrew Lenchewski — we want to take shows where they have the best chance to succeed.”
MTV has greenlighted for production I Just Want My Pants Back, a drama pilot based on the book by David Rosen, which will be directed by Doug Liman. The project, from Liman and Dave Bartis’ Hypnotic and Universal Cable Prods., marks the first pilot order from an outside network for UCP, which has been ramping up development for unaffiliated cable networks in the past 6 months under SVP Maira Suro. It also falls under a two-year overall deal that Hypnotic has signed with UPC.
Videogame maker THQ has teamed with Syfy for Red Faction: Origins, (working title) a two hour live-action movie/backdoor pilot based pilot on THQ’s Red Faction game franchise, which is scheduled to air in March 2011 on Syfy, tied with the release of the Red Faction Armageddon video game. The story …