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Link ankles U TV for Col

William Link, one of the most prolific producers of one-hour series in TV history, has uprooted himself after a lengthy affiliation with Universal TV and will set up shop at Columbia Pictures TV, he confirmed.

Link, who with his late partner Richard Levinson created such hourlong series as “Columbo,””McCloud” and “Murder, She Wrote,” will be exclusive to Columbia developing and producing series, and non-exclusive in regard to TV movies and features.

The producer has two telefilms in the works independently under his Foxcroft Prods. banner: “The Devil’s Night,” an ABC movie based on two Clive Barker short stories, which he’ll produce with Barker and Richard Maynard; and “Conduct Unbecoming: The Court-Martial of Whitaker Johnson,” based on the true story of a black West Point cadet, which he’ll produce with Harry Moses for Showtime.

Link called the split with Universal (where he’s been for more than 20 years, interrupted briefly in the mid-1980s when he went off to make movies) “completely amicable.”

He pointed out that there’s been an overall industry contraction in terms of the one-hour form–particularly in regard to higher-ticket producers. “The question is, what is the future now of the hour show?”

As for what drew him to Columbia, Link noted that Sony Pictures Entertainment president-chief operating officer Alan J. Levine was his attorney for several years prior to joining the studio.

Link, who has spent the last few months wrapping up projects at U, called his mandate at Col “to keep doing what I’ve done.”

In addition to more than 15 series, among them “Mannix” and “The Bold Ones,” Link and Levinson were pioneers in the TV movie area with such notable productions as “My Sweet Charlie,””That Certain Summer” and the Peabody Award-winning “The Execution of Private Slovik.”

Link came back to U full time after Levinson’s death in 1987 and oversaw ABC’s two-hour “Mystery Movie” wheel, which included the “Columbo” revival as well as “B.L. Stryker” and “Christine Cromwell.” He also has just completed a third novel, “Shooting Script.”

Lamenting trends in the movie area, Link quipped, “What’s next, ‘Amy Fisher: The Musical’?”

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