[05/16/03 - 12:00 AM]
Studios Keep the Talent Deals Coming
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - While many say that the era of the big studio deal is over, that hasn't stopped several actors and producers from landing hefty commitments in the past month. Here's a rundown of recent signings:

-- Writer-producers Jim O'Doherty and David M. Israel ("Grounded for Life") have signed a new two-year mid-seven-figure overall deal with Carsey-Werner-Mandabach. The duo is set to serve as executive producers/showrunners on the company's "The Tracy Morgan Show," which has been picked up for a midseason order by NBC. O'Doherty and Israel penned the script for the pilot and executive produced it with Lorne Michaels, Marcy Carsey, Caryn Mandabach, Tom Werner, David Miner and Dave Becky.

-- "Clone High U.S.A." creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller have inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pair will develop and script original live-action and animated material for the company a well as work on the studio's existing comedy projects.

-- "24" co-creator and executive producer Robert Cochran has signed a new two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television to remain as showrunner of the series while also developing new series projects for studio. Fellow co-creator and executive producer Joel Surnow signed a similar deal with 20th earlier this year. The duo, along with fellow writer/producer Howard Gordon, are all set to return to the drama next season.

-- Former "Frasier" writers/producers Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan are set to return to the series for its 11th and final season. The pair will share showrunning duties with current executive producer Dan O'Shannon. The news comes as the duo has inked a new, two-year, seven-figure overall production and development deal with Paramount Network Television. In addition to working on "Frasier," they'll create, develop and executive produce series projects for the studio once the comedy wraps next May. Lloyd was an executive producer on the series from its debut until May 2000 while Keenan joined "Frasier" in 1994 and was named co-executive producer in 1997. Keenan left shortly after Lloyd and the duo began developing new projects for Paramount as a team, landing a blind series commitment from CBS for the short-lived comedy "Bram and Alice."

-- Reality mogul Stuart Krasnow ("Weakest Link," "Dog Eat Dog," "America's Most Talented Kid") has signed a a new two-year, seven-figure overall development and production deal with NBC Studios. The pact calls for Krasnow to create, develop and executive produce unscripted projects for NBC while continuing his role as showrunner on "Dog." Krasnow also has several other projects in NBC's hopper: "Average Joe" (with fellow reality producer Andrew Glassman), "America's Most Talented Senior" and a hybrid reality/comedy pilot with Kathy Griffin ("Celebrity Mole") that's in contention for midseason.

-- "Saturday Night Live" head writer Tina Fey has sealed a new two-year deal to remain in that position (which she currently shares with co-head writer Dennis McNicholas) at least through the 2004-05 season. As part of the pact, Fey will develop her own primetime project for the Peacock with any production coming out of that deal would be produced by NBC Studios and "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video.

-- "J.A.G." star David James Elliott has signed on for another two seasons of the military drama, earning himself a healthy raise in the process. Elliott will pull down about $300,000 per episode to remain with the series (or around $6.5 million per season), an increase of about $100,000 per episode from his previous deal. The pact was signed shortly before CBS' formal pickup this week of the series for its eighth season. CBS executives had expressed reservations about renewing the series before Elliott's deal was in place. Co-star Catherine Bell was previously inked through next season.

-- NBC Studios has signed the cast of "Will & Grace" through the 2004-05 season in keeping with the Peacock's renewal of the series through said season back in March of 2002. Leads Eric McCormack and Debra Messing are set to make $400,000 per episode for the next two seasons with supporting cast members Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes also receiving comparable raises.

  [may 2003]  

· 24 (FOX)
· 30 ROCK (NBC)

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