NBC firms up alliance with DreamWorks

Aug 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker’s effort to create a new studio “pod” production system at NBC had the network formally sealing a two-year series development deal with DreamWorks Television last week.
Under terms of the deal, NBC will have first-look rights on all future series properties developed by DreamWorks and will provide financing for the programs in return for a majority ownership stake. NBC also retains the back-end syndication rights (through NBC Enterprises) to any shows that DreamWorks produces. If NBC passes on a particular project, DreamWorks Television will have the ability to pitch and produce the series for other broadcast networks.
NBC launched its new studio pod system earlier this year when it signed Gavin Polone’s independent Pariah production company. Mr. Zucker could also be eyeing a smaller, stand-alone development deal that would put Neal Moritz’s Original Films under the NBC Studios banner, production sources said.
Similar to Pariah, Original Films had an exclusive production arrangement with Columbia TriStar Television until Columbia TriStar decided to get out of expensive talent holding deals and stop producing shows that carried large production deficits. The addition of Original Films, under Mr. Moritz’s aegis, would have NBC’s pod structure on par with Fox Television Studios’ production alliances with Regency Television and Greenblatt-Janollari Studios.
However, a source within NBC said there are no ongoing discussions with Original Films. He also said Mr. Zucker does not currently want to increase the number of pod production deals being placed under the NBC umbrella.
Orginal Films’ head of TV production, Marty Adelstein, could not be reached for comment.
In the meantime, NBC said its new relationship with DreamWorks-the series producer of the former ABC sitcom “Spin City” and NBC’s upcoming fall 2002 drama “Boomtown” (a co-production with NBC Studios)-is intended to “streamline the development process … allowing the network to expand the scope and diversity of sources of new programming.”
“DreamWorks has distinguished itself as one of the premier producers of quality television,” Mr. Zucker said in a prepared statement. “The brand that [DreamWorks Principal] Jeffrey Katzenberg and his team have created aligns nicely with NBC’s smart, sophisticated brand. We’re confident that many hit TV shows will come as a result of this alliance.”
“We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to be in business with Jeff Zucker, Karey Burke [NBC’s executive VP of current programming] and the rest of the NBC team,” Mr. Katzenberg said. “We have a longstanding relationship with Ted Harbert [president of NBC Studios], and our recent work together on `Boomtown’ opened the door for this larger collaboration, and we can’t wait to get started.”