Touchstone taps trio as senior VPs

Franz, Calfo, Patmore upped in comedy, drama roles

Touchstone Television’s top comedy and drama lieutenants have been handed senior vice president stripes.

Move comes as Touchstone continues to grow its series roster, expanding its scope at the other networks while playing a major role in ABC’s recovery thanks to skeins such as “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” and “Alias.”

Promoted execs include Julia Franz, who heads up the studio’s comedy division, and Francie Calfo and Suzanne Patmore, who jointly oversee Touchstone’s drama department. All three move up from vice president.

As part of the promotion, Calfo –who worked part-time at the studio last season — has returned fully to Touchstone. Meanwhile, Nicole Norwood has also joined the staff as director of drama series.

Calfo, Patmore and Franz report to Touchstone TV prexy Steve McPherson, who officially announced the promotions Thursday.

“This is a reward for helping be a part of building this studio back into being a real player,” McPherson said. “These two departments have established themselves into one of the best in the business. I wanted to make sure they were rewarded appropriately.”

Franz first joined Touchstone TV in 1995 as manager of current programs, working her way up to director of creative affairs in 1997 and VP of creative affairs in 1998. Under her watch, Touchstone developed skeins such as “Scrubs,” “My Wife and Kids,” “8 Simple Rules,” “Life With Bonnie” and “According to Jim.”

She continues to develop laffers while overseeing current projects. Franz began her career at CAA and also worked with director Sydney Pollack.

“The success of Touchstone comedy — is a testament to the tremendous hard work Julia and her team have put in over the past three seasons,” McPherson said.

As for Calfo and Patmore, the duo are developing a wide range of dramas, including the Sean Patrick Flanery/Melissa Gilbert vehicle “Then Came Jones” and a Rod Lurie-produced political project, both for ABC.

Calfo’s credits include developing “CSI” and “Monk,” as well as “Alias” and “Gideon’s Crossing.” She first joined Disney as a researcher, moving up to VP of research at Buena Vista Television before moving to production. As VP of creative affairs, she oversaw skeins such as “Home Improvement” and “Felicity.”

Patmore joined Touchstone in 2000 and led development on upcoming projects such as “Miracles.” Previously, she worked at Mutual Film Company (“Saving Private Ryan”) and Bedford Falls (“Legends of the Fall,” “Once and Again”).

“(Calfo and Patmore) each have their own skill set and, as collaborators, I think they will be an invaluable team,” McPherson said. “Francie has been instrumental in building this department — and Suzanne’s work over the past two seasons has been exemplary.”

Meanwhile, Norwood, who most recently served as manager of current programming and drama development at the WB, has joined the company.

The Northwestern grad will work on both development and current series under Calfo and Patmore. Besides the WB, her resume includes stints at the Gersh Agency, ICM and Brillstein-Grey.

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