‘Jake’ maker rakes in 20th TV deal

Winsberg makes 'Progress' and inks big deal

Twentieth Century Fox TV is substantially upping its investment in Austin Winsberg, signing the “Jake in Progress” creator to a two-year, seven-figure overall pact with the studio.

Development deal is the first for Winsberg, 28, who has spent a big chunk of his young career at 20th. After starting out on the staff of the studio’s CBS laffer “Still Standing,” he went on to create “Jake,” a single-camera ABC laffer exec produced by Winsberg and Jeffrey Richman. Show wrapped its frosh season last month.

While “Jake’s” modest Nielsen perf in the difficult 8 p.m. Thursday timeslot puts it squarely on the bubble for a second season, 20th Century Fox TV prexy Dana Walden said the studio has “a lot of faith” in Winsberg’s abilities.

“We loved the pilot for ‘Jake’ and think he’s one of those young writers you want to place a bet on,” Walden told Daily Variety. “The experience he’s had running his own show has been incredible, and he grew throughout the process.”

Walden said Winsberg possesses “an original voice” as well as a “sophisticated style to his writing that feels very reminiscent of ‘Sex and the City.’ But when you talk to him, he’s a normal, accessible guy.”

Many studios expressed interest in Winsberg. Scribe, however, said 20th is his logical home.

“They’ve been very supportive, they’ve understood my vision and let’s be honest — they’re really the only people I know,” he quipped.

As for future development, WMA-repped Winsberg said he’s open to all sorts of ideas, including exploring a light one-hour drama. He believes his experience on “Jake” has made it easier for him to tackle new projects.

“It’s been a huge learning curve,” he said. “I went from being a story editor to running the show. It really was like grad school for me. (And) Richman was like my professor.”

Winsberg previously had a blind script commitment from 20th that will now be folded into his overall deal.

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