Capital Cities/ABC has expanded its push into production by inking a novel agreement with Brillstein-Grey Entertainment to establish a new entity charged with producing all forms of television programming.The deal calls for the creation of a separate company under Brillstein-Grey’s supervision that will focus on developing network programming as well as product for homevideo, pay-per-view and interactive television. That entity will have its own staff — including a yet-to-be-named president and execs in charge of programming and business activities — reporting to Brillstein-Grey principals Brad Grey and Bernie Brillstein, who stressed that their other businesses, including management and motion picture production, will remain completely separate from this venture. CapCities/ABC officials said their eagerness to work with Brillstein-Grey was based on the company’s track record developing and nurturing talent. The management wing’s clientele includes Garry Shandling, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers and Brad Pitt as well as producers Lorne Michaels and Jay Tarses. On the flip side, Grey lauded CapCities for being “aggressive and forward-thinking” in pursuing production in light of modifications in — and the likely elimination of — the financial interest and syndication rules. CapCities/ABC has committed major financial backing to the new operation, although the parties noted that the ultimate level will be contingent on how active the new company is in developing programming. Like ABC Prods., the web’s in-house production unit, the jointventure will have a first-look relationship with ABC but will have the option of taking programs to other outlets. Brillstein-Grey has a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment that encompasses existing TV projects, such as HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show” and this season’s pilot crop, which includes vehicles at Fox Broadcasting Co. for comic Bernie Mac , Tarses and Kid N’ Play, respectively. Those programs will remain separate from the new agreement. In addition, Grey confirmed that he’s talking with Sony about expanding that relationship so that Sony’s syndication wing, Columbia Pictures TV Distribution, would handle domestic distribution of product generated by the CapCities/Brillstein-Grey entity. Columbia has entered into a number of other recent network partnerships, including the ABC series “Moon Over Miami.” CapCities has consistently stated that owning and distributing programs will be a significant part of its business in the future, stepping up production through ABC Prods. and other arms of the company. Named prez Toward that end, David Westin was named president of production for the ABC TV Network Group in a reorganization last July. He reports directly to network group prexy Robert Iger — who, along with Westin and ABC Entertainment prez Ted Harbert, participated in crafting the new arrangement, put together in part by Creative Artists Agency. Brillstein-Grey projects include Paramount’s “Wayne’s World” and its sequel, “Larry Sanders,””It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “Good Sports.” Brillstein also has been exec producer on such TV series as Tarses’ “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” and “The ‘Slap’ Maxwell Story.”
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