Exec looks 'to place more weight toward the half-hour'

Former Fox exec VP of programming David Nevins has joined Imagine Entertainment as the new head of its TV unit, where his marching orders will be to develop more comedy skeins.

Nevins, who starts Monday as president of Imagine Television, left Fox at the end of June after three years at the web (Daily Variety, June 11). The Imagine gig keeps him somewhat within the News Corp. fold: Imagine remains based at 20th Century Fox Television, where the boutique just reworked its deal.

Although both sides still had a year left on their previous pact inked in 2000, 20th and Imagine partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard opted to revamp their relationship under a new two-year deal that spreads some of Imagine’s development money over the next two years rather than using it all in the final year.

“We want to be in business with Brian Grazer,” said 20th Century Fox TV co-prexy Dana Walden. “We believe in him as a magnet for talent, as an incredible storyteller and as a producer committed to the quality of projects. That is why everyone spent the time and all of the work to orchestrate this new arrangement.”

In Nevins, Imagine “is getting a best-case scenario, an exec who knows the ins and outs of both the studio and the network,” Waldensaid. “He’ll be able to tap into what’s extraordinary with the Imagine brand.”

Nevins replaces Tony Krantz, who ankled over philosophical differences with Fox and Imagine (Daily Variety, May 23).

Nevins got to know the Imagine team, including Grazer, while working on the critically acclaimed drama “24” last season.

“That’s a very demanding show, and I found he was resilient and disciplined,” Grazer said. “I judge things in the form of character and expertise. In both categories he really checked out for me.”

Half-hour priority

Grazer said Nevins’ mandate includes developing more half-hour projects for Imagine.

“Comedy sensibility has been a very big part of Imagine,” Grazer said. “We want to place more weight toward the half-hour.”

After a long career as a network exec, Nevins said he looks forward to working as a supplier.

“I’m pumped to be a producer and go from managing a giant slate to doing projects that I really love,” he said. “There’s no better production team in Hollywood than Brian and Ron.”

Cozy ties

The exec said his stewardship at Imagine should benefit from his understanding of the inner workings at 20th and Fox.

“Obviously I have real comfort and trust with 20th,” he said. “We’ve been in the trenches together, and I need them now more than ever.”

Nevins also expects to keep his team at Imagine intact, including drama head Jennifer Robinson, comedy chief Katie O’Connell and business affairs head Skip Chasey.

While at Fox, Nevins helped develop skeins such as “24,” “Boston Public” and “The Bernie Mac Show.” Prior to Fox, he spent seven years at NBC, working his way up to senior vice president of primetime series.

Krantz, who first joined Imagine TV as co-partner and CEO in 1997, is expected to sign a new development deal at Warner Bros. Television shortly.

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