Hollywood Notes

Mar 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Littlefield cuts deal with Paramount

Warren Littlefield, former president of NBC Entertainment and current owner of independent production company Littlefield Productions, has severed his in-house production deal with NBC and signed a multiyear pact with Paramount Network Television.

Ending a 21-year association with NBC, Mr. Littlefield will now develop and produce comedy and drama series for the Viacom-owned Hollywood studio. Mr. Littlefield originally signed a two-year production pact with NBC in 1999, shortly after exiting as president of entertainment.

Cooking up second helping of `Puck’

Weller/Grossman Productions, a Los Angeles-based TV supplier of reality, informational, entertainment and documentary programming, has received an order to produce 26 more episodes of “Wolfgang Puck,” a half-hour cooking/entertainment series for the Food Network at 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (ET) Fridays.

The new order, which represents a second-season renewal of “Puck,” will trigger the start of production in June. Mr. Puck is the chef who redefined the restaurant experience by focusing on a celebrity clientele at his West Hollywood, Calif., eatery Spago, spurring a bevy of other star-driven restaurants.

This year, Weller/Grossman, headed up by former “Entertainment Tonight” host Robb Weller and Gary Grossman, entered into an exclusive arrangement to develop and produce 300 hours of programming for the National Geographic Channel.

Man claims `Will’s’ Jack is based on him

Jack Deamer, a Los Angeles-based interior designer, is suing NBC Studios and the producers of “Will & Grace,” claiming they based one of the sitcom’s characters on him without compensating him for use of his image. In a suit filed March 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mr. Deamer alleges Max Mutchnick, creator and executive producer of “Will & Grace,” based the gay character Jack McFarland (played by Emmy winner Sean Hayes) on him.

Mr. Deamer’s suit says Mr. Mutchnick and David Kohan, also co-creator and executive producer, had promised to buy Mr. Deamer a house and a car in exchange for basing the character on him. According to the suit, Mr. Deamer had initially agreed to remain silent about his embarrassment at being portrayed as “flamboyantly gay” in exchange for getting the new car and house, which his suit valued at more than $500,000.

An NBC spokesman declined comment, saying the network does not talk about pending litigation and has yet to see the contents of the suit. Mr. Deamer claims he has known Mr. Mutchnick for more than a decade.

At past Television Critics Association press tours, both Mr. Mutchnick and Mr. Kohan have openly said the Jack character is based on Mr. Deamer, according to various press interviews attached as exhibits in the suit.

Mr. Deamer has also claimed to have served as an occasional creative consultant on the show, but there is no listing of his name on show credits from the first three seasons, according to several database searches.

`Doc’ to make eight more house calls

After debuting two weeks ago at a record 2.0 rating nationally in households and following it up with a 1.8 rating March 18, the Sunday 8 p.m. (ET) medical drama “Doc,” starring country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, has received an order from Pax TV for eight additional episodes.

“Doc’s” second outing improved the time slot by 100 percent in households and 218 percent in adults 18 to 49 over the previous first-quarter average generated previously by “Miracle Pets.”

Universal sets `Wheel’ in motion

Universal Worldwide Television has announced a firm go on new first-run relationship strip “The 5th Wheel” as well as a third season for the studio’s hit “Blind Date.” Universal has also extended its domestic barter sales rights agreement with Tribune in which the latter will represent the ad sales on behalf of both series. Both are being sold on a 31/2-national and 31/2-local split.