EXCLUSIVE: NBC has put in development The Money Pit, a comedy series based on the 1986 feature starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. Amblin Television, the TV division of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, which produced the movie with Universal Pictures, is producing the potential series with Universal Television. Former Office writer-producer Justin Spitzer, who is under an overall deal at Uni TV, will write the adaptation and executive produce with Amblin TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. The movie, written by David Giler and directed by Richard Benjamin, starred Hanks and Long as a couple who are tricked into buying a distress-sale mansion that becomes the proverbial “money pit,” requiring an endless string of repairs. This is the second sale for UTA-repped Spitzer this season. He also has a Detroit auto company comedy with producer Aaron Kaplan that has a put pilot commitment at NBC, and comedy Start-Up in development at USA Network. Spitzer joined The Office at the beginning of Season 3, rising to co-executive producer. Amblin’s portfolio includes series The Americans, Under The Dome, Falling Skies, the just-canceled Lucky 7 and the upcoming Extant.
Ed Helms has formed Pacific Electric Picture Co., which will be based at Universal TV, the studio behind The Office, with a first-look deal. Helms has brought in Mosaic’s Mike Falbo as Pacific Electric Picture’s EVP Production & Development. “We are such fans of Ed Helms from his body of work as an actor but we have always been impressed by his instincts and interest in producing,” said Universal Television EVP Bela Bajaria. While the deals for Pacific Electric Picture was still being hammered out, Helms recently sold the first project through the company — a comedy at ABC penned by Mike Arnold (Archer), which follows a brilliant and strong-willed attorney who loses her fiancé and job at the city’s top law firm and takes up with the scrappy, rival firm of misfits across the street. “I’m so thrilled to bring Mike on board the creative gravy train at Pacific Electric Picture Co,” Helms said. “He’s a genuine, wonderful guy with great taste, and a phenomenal work ethic. He also has great hair, which goes a long way in this business.”
Blurring The Lines On Vertical Integration: Network-Affiliated Studios Aggressive In Selling To Other Broadcast Networks
On Friday, ABC Studios closed a put pilot commitment deal at CBS for Gorgeous Morons, a multi-camera comedy from Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky and Danny Chun, which the studio only shopped to outside networks. That was ABC Studios’ first major comedy commitment at a non-Disney network in many years as the studio is pushing a mandate to produce for all networks. (The studio has some tradition on the drama side with such series as Criminal Minds and the upcoming Intelligence, both on CBS.) Now CBS TV Studios, which had been focused entirely on its sibling broadcast networks CBS and CW, made it known this summer that it too will start selling to other broadcast networks. (The studio already has been developing for cable and has TNT series King & Maxwell.) In one of its first sales to a broadcast rival, CBS Studios has set up an untitled sisters comedy project from Danielle Sanchez-Witzel at ABC. The project, which stems from Sanchez-Witzel’s studio overall deal, centers on a woman with a messy life who moves in with her younger sister. It is one of several projects CBS Studios has at ABC and Fox.
EXCLUSIVE UPDATED: In another indication that they are high on drama pilot I Am Victor, I’ve learned that NBC and pilot’s producer Universal TV have extended the options on six cast members, led by star John Stamos, who plays the title character, an LA divorce attorney. Also picked up are Matthew Lillard, who plays Victor’s best friend; Angela Sarafyan, who plays Victor’s sassy assistant; Kosha Patel and Josh Zuckerman, who play young legal associates/interns; and McKaley Miller, who plays Victor’s daughter.
Earlier this month, the network commissioned a rewrite by Mark Goffman who wrote the original pilot. Based on Jo Nesbo’s book, I Am Victor centers on Victor Port (Stamos), a high-powered divorce attorney with a unique view of relationships. As we reported, the project is being retooled and likely will focus more on Victor’s legal cases while still dealing with his personal life as NBC brass liked the show’s legal world and Stamos, who tested very strong.
EXCLUSIVE: Comedy Central executive-turned-producer Lou Wallach has signed an overall deal with Universal TV’s Alternative Studio. Under the pact, Wallach will develop, produce and consult on comedies of different formats, primarily for NBC but also possibly for other …
Universal Television has signed an overall deal with Steve Cragg and Brian Bradley, the studio announced today. The two-year agreement between the producers and …
Comedy writer-producers Josh Bycel and Jonathan Fener have closed an overall deal at Universal Television. Under the two-year pact, the duo is joining the studio’s NBC comedy pilot Assistance as executive producers. They also will develop new projects. “We’ve been longtime fans of Bycel and Fener and are happy to have them as part of the Universal TV family,” said Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria,. “They are both strong showrunners and developers, individually, as well as a team.” UTA-repped Bycel and Fener most recently worked on ABC’s Happy Endings, Bycel as executive producer and Fener as co-executive producers. The two also worked together as co-executive producers on Fox’s American Dad.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Television has secured another key member of departing 30 Rock. Series executive producer Jack Burditt has signed a two-year overall deal with the studio behind the Emmy-winning NBC comedy, which ends its seven-season run January 31. Burditt joins 30 Rock creator/star/executive producer Tina Fey and star/producer Alec Baldwin, who also recently signed deals with Universal TV to remain at the studio following 30 Rock‘s end. “We are thrilled to continue our relationship at the studio with Jack after his invaluable contribution to 30 Rock,” Uni TV’s EVP Bela Bajaria said. “He’s a great showrunner and is a welcome addition to our roster.”
On the heels of Eva Longoria‘s collaboration with NBC and Universal Television on the upcoming dating reality series Ready For Love, the actress-producer has signed a first-look development deal with Universal TV for her UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. Under the pact, the Desperate Housewives alumna will serve as a non-writing executive producer on scripted and unscripted projects for the studio.
NBC-affiliated Universal Television has set up two more projects at an outside network, ABC: drama Beneath from writers Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie (The Event) and Uni TV-based producer Peter Traugott; and the comedy High Maintenance, from writers-actors Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, who are also attached to co-star, and 3 Arts.
Beneath is described as a supernatural drama about the unusual changes that befall a town after an energy company comes drilling for natural gas and unleashes something far more powerful. ICM Partners-repped Dworkin and Beattie are writing the script and will executive produce with Traugott and Rachel Kaplan. Beneath expands Dworkin and Beattie’s relationship with ABC — the two serve as consulting producers on the network’s soap Revenge. It also marks Traugott’s first sale outside of NBC since he joined Uni TV last year and his return to ABC, where he did a lot of business as TV president of ABC Studios-based Brillstein Entertainment.
High Maintenance is based on Lemme’s college job experience as an elevator man in a luxury NYC highrise. Heffernan and Lemme, members of the Broken Lizard comedy filmmaking group behind such movies as Super Troopers and Beerfest, will write and act in the show, which centers on the staff at an upscale Manhattan apartment building. The duo, repped by UTA, 3 Arts and attorney Lev Ginsburg, will executive produce with 3 Arts. Heffernan & Lemme’s stand-up special Fat Man Little Boy will be released by Netflix later this year.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Television today entered into a first-look deal with Oni Press and Closed On Mondays. It’s a multiyear agreement between the indie comic and graphic novel publishers and Universal TV. “Oni and Closed …