Eriq La Salle is plotting a primetime return with the man who put him there in the first place: Leslie Moonves.
Former “ER” star has inked a one-year talent and production deal with Moonves-run CBS and Paramount Network Television. Pact reunites him with many of the former Warner Bros. TV execs who developed “ER,” including Moonves and Eye entertainment prexy Nina Tassler.
“It’s a homecoming that feels very comfortable for me,” La Salle told Daily Variety.
Deal, valued in the high six figures, calls for Par to develop programming with La Salle via his Humble Journey Films banner.
La Salle is also on board to co-create a project for CBS in which he would star. It would rep his first series role since checking out of “ER” three years ago.
Par prexy David Stapf said both parts of the pact were attractive to the studio.
“This is a deal where we’re as interested in the development component as much as the acting component,” he said. “Eriq’s become a really skilled filmmaker and we’re (looking forward) to hearing what ideas he has.”
The fact that La Salle has proven acting chops is “an added bonus,” Stapf said.
Stapf served as head of publicity for WBTV when “ER” was getting off the ground, while Tassler ran development at the studio under Moonves’ watch.
More recently, La Salle directed the 2000 pilot for Par-produced “Soul Food” (before Stapf came to the studio). Last year, he developed, with Michael Steinberg, the Par script “Ice” for CBS.
La Salle described Tassler in particular as his “greatest champion in this town” and said Moonves’ success at CBS made inking with the net an easy decision. “It ain’t bad working on the No. 1 network,” he said.
Most important to La Salle in the deal is the fact that he’ll be able to participate in the creation of new programming, working with Humble Journey development chief Terri Lubaroff.
“After taking three years to work on the company, this gives me the freedom to come back to one of my first loves, which is acting in television,” he said. “The difference this time is, I’m not just coming back as a piece of talent but as a partner and a co-creator.”
La Salle and Lubaroff have meetings at Par set up this week to discuss development ideas and potential writer pacts.
On the feature front, La Salle recently wrapped production on “Johnny Was,” opposite Samantha Mumba and Roger Daltrey.