ABC, Fox seeking light at end of ‘Time Tunnel’

Ravich revisiting 1966 Irwin Allen sci-fier

“The Time Tunnel” is headed back to television — but whether the project ends up at ABC or Fox is now the subject of a battle between the two nets.

Remake of the 1966 Irwin Allen sci-fi adventure skein is being put together by scribe Rand Ravich (“The Astronaut’s Wife”) and helmer Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”) via Regency Television and 20th Century Fox Television. Skein will be updated from the original series, which revolved around two young scientists working on a secret government project that allows them to travel back and forward in time.

Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni are attached as exec producers, along with Sheila Allen, Irwin Allen’s widow.

Both ABC and Fox Broadcasting Co. have made substantial offers for the rights to the project, with ABC’s initial offer said to be significantly higher than Fox’s bid. Each net has offered at least a put pilot commitment with a cash penalty if the project is not taken to series.

In addition, industry insiders said ABC has also made a 13-episode commitment to “Time Tunnel,” along with a higher cash penalty.

FBC is apparently willing to match ABC’s bid. Alphabet execs, however, have already signaled their willingness to improve substantially upon their original offer — but are now worried that 20th and Regency are trying to ensure the project lands at its sister network, FBC.

In most cases, FBC would have first crack at “Time Tunnel,” but because the estate of Irwin Allen co-owns the rights to the series, 20th and Regency are required to get fair market value for the project — which is why the bidding was open to other nets.

Insiders at News Corp., which has a stake in Regency, 20th and FBC, argue that 20th regularly pitches its projects to multiple networks, while Disney-owned Touchstone produces almost exclusively for ABC. Mouse House types counter that Touchstone now has series on both CBS and NBC.

Burns wouldn’t comment on the specifics of negotiations, but said he’s confident that when the dust settles, “Time Tunnel” will land at the appropriate network.

“If it ends up at Fox, it’s because that’s where it belongs,” he said. “If it ends up at ABC, that’s where it belongs.”

Reps for ABC, Fox and packaging agency CAA declined comment.

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