Fox TV inks Judge to four-year deal

'King' faces biggest test yet

Mike Judge, who co-created Fox’s animated hit “King of the Hill” and created MTV’s infamous “Beavis & Butt-head,” has inked a four-year development deal with 20th Century Fox TV worth an estimated $16 million.

Under terms of the deal, Judge will develop multiple live-action and animated series for 20th, and he will remain as executive producer of “King of the Hill” and the voice of lead characters Hank Hill and Boomhauer for the life of the show. Such a guarantee is important to 20th, which recently went through a tense salary renegotiation with the voice actors on “The Simpsons.”

“Mike Judge is a true brand name, instantly recognizable for his completely original comic vision,” said Sandy Grushow, president of 20th Century Fox TV.

“King of the Hill” is Fox’s highest-rated comedy series. The show will face its biggest test yet this fall in a new Tuesday 8 p.m. timeslot against NBC’s “Mad About You” and ABC’s “Home Improvement.”

Mitigating the risk, “King of the Hill” already has been sold in syndication for a 2001 debut and is expected to rack up between $2.5 million to $2.8 million an episode in cash alone, a strong showing in an otherwise weak market period for off-net sitcoms. In addition to his work on “King of the Hill,” Judge is writing and directing the upcoming Fox Films live-action feature “Office Space,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole and Ron Livingston.

After launching “Beavis & Butt-head” in 1993, Judge produced more than 250 episodes of the frequently controversial series. He also wrote and directed the 1996 feature “Beavis & Butt-head Do America.”

Judge is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment.

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