Bellisario leap to Par firmed in TV-pic pact

Producer Donald P. Bellisario has entered into an exclusive TV and first-look feature deal with Paramount Pictures, as expected (Daily Variety, July 10), after more than a dozen years at Universal TV.

The long-anticipated move reunites Bellisario with Paramount TV Group president Kerry McCluggage and studio chairman Brandon Tartikoff–what Bellisario called a three-way “mutual admiration society,” who were jointly responsible for Bellisario’s NBC series “Quantum Leap.”

Though best-known for television Bellisario said his first project under the three-year pact will likely be a feature, possibly a psychological thriller he’ll write and either produce or direct. He’s also working on an action concept for NBC that could lead to a series or series of TV movies.

Bellisario will continue to have a supervisory role on “Quantum Leap,” produced by his Belisarius Prods. with Universal. The producer had publicly clashed with the studio over budgeting on the show but said that was only part of the reason he’s going to Paramount, citing his relationships with McCluggage and Tartikoff.

In addition to “Quantum,” Bellisario recently produced the CBS series “Tequila and Bonetti” and created and produced “Airwolf” and “Magnum, P.I.”–the latter having the distinction of being one of the most profitable hours ever in off-network syndication.

His tenure at Universal began in the late ’70s and was interrupted briefly when he worked on the 1988 MGM feature “Last Rites,” starring Tom Berenger and Daphne Zuniga. He then signed an overall pact with U TV in 1988.

Paramount recently confirmed that former Universal creative affairs exec VP Richard Lindheim was joining the TV Group as McCluggage’s second-in-command.

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