‘Time’ is right for Fox

Alphabet also battling to obtain skein

Fox Broadcasting Co. is finalizing a deal for a remake of 1966 Irwin Allen sci-fi actioner “The Time Tunnel” — despite ABC’s best efforts to land the project.

FBC siblings Regency Television and 20th Century Fox Television are the producing studios behind the new version of “Time Tunnel,” which has made FBC the front-runner to snag the skein all along ( Daily Variety, Oct. 12). Agents at Endeavor and CAA, which rep the major parties behind the project, continue to hammer out details of the pact.

FBC is expected to get “Time Tunnel” by offering at least a put pilot commitment with a hefty seven-figure penalty attached — a huge commitment in today’s development market, where few projects are getting more than script orders.

But ABC execs, led by network co-chairman Lloyd Braun, have gone to extraordinary lengths to land “Time Tunnel” for themselves. Braun took Allen’s widow, Sheila, to lunch last Thursday at the Disney exec dining room. ABC also sent faxes to 20th execs Friday informing them that it was prepared to match and exceed FBC’s most recent offer.

While ABC may very well have been willing to exceed FBC’s offer, insiders close to the negotiations point out that money alone is never the sole factor in determining where a project lands.

Some associated with the project believe “Time Tunnel” has a better shot at becoming a series, and landing a plum slot, if it goes to FBC. What’s more, the show’s sci-fi bent feels at home at FBC, which has skeins such as “The X-Files” and “Dark Angel.”

They point to the unpredictability involved in ABC’s May scheduling process, where senior Disney execs play a key role. The Alphabet has also had difficulty launching new dramas in recent years, though new hour “Alias” has shown some promise on Sundays this fall.

Execs at ABC, meanwhile, believe they’ve never had a serious shot at landing “Time Tunnel,” and that vertical integration has clouded the decision-making process. News Corp. insiders point out that Disney’s ABC is among the most vertically integrated of all the nets.

Scribe Rand Ravich (“The Astronaut’s Wife”) and helmer Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”), both of whom will exec produce, are putting together the new “Time Tunnel.” Holland and FBC Entertainment prexy Gail Berman worked together last when Berman ran Regency Television, the studio behind “Malcolm.”

Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni, who have an overall deal at Fox TV Studios, will also exec produce the skein. Ravich is based at 20th, while Holland has an overall deal with Regency Television.

Burns, Jashni, Holland and the Allen estate are all repped by Endeavor. Ravitch is repped by CAA.

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