Former Carsey-Werner exec David Tochterman has been named executive vice president of Overbrook Entertainment, the company run by actor Will Smith and James Lassiter, which has just formed a TV division.
Tochterman will be in charge of all TV development and production for the company, which is financed by Universal. Overbrook currently has an overall deal in movies and TV with Universal, but U is currently without a domestic TV production operation.
What that means is Overbrook is free to pursue alliances with other studios or networks, but if Universal restarts its TV division, which is being discussed, Overbrook might produce projects with Universal.
Tochterman spent six years at Carsey-Werner, working most recently as senior vice president of creative affairs, a post in charge of hiring writers and talent. Before that he was vice president of talent and development.
During his tenure at the indie powerhouse, he helped develop shows such as “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Cybill,” “Cosby” and “Grace Under Fire,” which he also executive produced for two seasons.
“I learned a lot from the best producers in TV,” Tochterman said. “Overbrook was seeking someone entrepreneurial to build a TV company, and I’ve always wanted to find a home and grow it.”
Prior to joining Carsey-Werner, Tochterman directed and/or produced 25 plays on and off Broadway.
“Will and I are excited to have David join Overbrook,” Lassiter said in a statement. “His vision and passion are consistent with our goals for the company.”
Tochterman said the company would be “project- and talent-driven rather than volume-driven,” and that “passion” would be the top priority. The company will work with all six broadcast networks as well as cable outlets, developing comedy and drama.
With broadcast networks producing more shows inhouse and demanding ownership stakes, it seems like a tough time for a new company to break in, but Tochterman says the opposite is true.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to develop distinctive programming,” he said. “If you look around the fall schedule and the shows picked up at Imagine and Greenblatt-Janollari and Mandalay, it’s clear it’s a great time to be an indie producer. There are opportunities for projects developed outside the studio system.”
Smith, who starred in the TV comedy “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” will be very involved in the company’s TV business, Tochterman added. “He came up through the ranks of a hit TV series,” Tochterman said. “He knows as much as anybody.”