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Madonna’s Maverick in ABC pact

Madonna’s Maverick Television Co. has entered into a wide-ranging arrangement with the ABC network and ABC Prods. to develop and produce all forms of television, including series, longform programming and specials.

ABC eschewed specifics but said that it’s committed to several projects, beginning with a four-hour miniseries biography, “Madonna: The Early Years.” Plans for that production had leaked out earlier but turn out to be part of a larger relationship.

The deal was announced jointly by ABC Prods. prez Brandon Stoddard and ABC Entertainment chief Ted Harbert, who cited the network’s commitment to event television in noting that “everything Madonna touches becomes an event.”

For her part, Madonna said in a statement that she “wanted to join forces with an established network with a high-caliber reputation that was also willing to take chances.”

Maverick, formed by Madonna and co-chairman Freddy DeMann in April 1992 with backing from Time Warner Inc., has been billed as a multimedia enterprise that wants to be involved in film, music, TV, merchandising and publishing.

False starts

The company has had some false starts in television, with Sharon Cicero joining Maverick to head that area last August, only to leave a few months later and be replaced by Iris Dugow.

Under the initial terms of its deal with Time Warner, Maverick had the option of partnering with various studio divisions on any of its projects, including TV production arms Warner Bros. TV, Lorimar TV and HBO Independent Prods.

ABC scored big numbers last year with a similarly themed mini-series biography, its five-hour “The Jacksons: An American Dream.”

The involvement of ABCP means that the web will have a production role and ownership stake in at least some of the projects.

Production details for the “Madonna” miniseries and other projects will be announced at a later date, according to the network.

Maverick’s first feature, “Snake Eyes,” will star Harvey Keitel and be distributed this fall by MGM.

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