USA VP Shapiro gets 1st-look deal

Exec to be hands-on in finding replacement

USA Network senior VP of longform programming Adam Shapiro will segue to a first-look producing deal with the company when his contract expires in June. He has been at the company three years.

Before Shapiro goes, however, he will be highly involved in the search for his replacement, and over the next three months he’ll continue to usher the eight longforms still due to preem on the cable net.

Among the USA projects set to roll under Shapiro’s leadership is “Diamond of Jeru,” an adaptation of a short story by Louis L’Amour. Telepic, starring Billy Zane as a diamond hunter in Borneo, will be shot in Australia.

When Shapiro exits USA, he will return to his roots as a TV and film producer by setting up his own producing shingle. He will have a deal to produce projects for USA on a first-look basis, while also supplying other outlets.

While Shapiro said he’s proud of the success he’s had breaking USA into new film genres — like the youth-oriented thriller category, with Judd Nelson starrer “Cabin by the Lake” –he’s ready to take a break from the development grind.

“For every year in this job it’s like seven years, like a dog,” Shapiro joked. “I want to go back to producing. I told my bosses, ‘I want to go back to supplying you and others movies.’ ”

USA Network exec VP of original programming Jim Miller, USA Network prexy Doug Herzog and USA Cable prexy Stephen Chao “did a great thing. They treated me with total respect, and respected what I’ve done in the past,” Shapiro added. “The guys were extremely gracious in working out my next life.”

Before joining USA in 1998, Shapiro produced projects for ABC, UPN and firstrun syndication, as well as a film based on the novel “Tom’s Midnight Garden.”

Before that, he was senior VP and head of development at Hanna-Barbera and VP of development for Kushner-Locke.

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