Paramount Network Television has taken out a contract on Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, signing “The Sopranos” scribes to a hefty three-year overall deal.
Emmy-winning duo has been with the HBO skein since its start and written some of its most memorable episodes, including “Employee of the Month” and “Whoever Did This.” Latter seg featured the killing and beheading of Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano).
Under the new pact — valued in excess of $6 million over its life — Burgess and Green will create, develop and exec produce series programming for Par. CBS is expected to get first dibs on what they develop, particularly given Eye entertainment prexy Nina Tassler’s aggressive courting of the two scribes over the past decade.
“Nina has been pursuing them for as long as I’ve known her,” said Par prexy David Stapf. “She’s been very passionate about courting them, and I get to be the beneficiary of that.”
Tassler said Burgess and Green are the rare scribes “who are as skilled dramatically as they are comedically.”
“They can literally make it so that one moment you’re laughing so hard your ribs hurt, and the next you can’t breathe,” she added. Tassler first worked with the duo on the 1996 Eye dramedy “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” which starred Maria Bello and Scott Bakula.
Stapf said Burgess and Green, going back to their days as writer-producers on “Northern Exposure,” have “proven their ability to create complex and compelling characters. They write with a lot of depth, a lot of humor, a lot of pathos.”
Deal with Par goes into effect in June, six months after Burgess and Green’s overall pact with HBO expires. Scribes worked as exec producers on the upcoming sixth season of the show but decided not to stay for future episodes.
“We were eager to get on with it,” Green said. “It’s a wonderful show and it was great to be there, but it was time.”
While Green created the short-lived 1990 CBS anthology “Room for Romance,” the Par deal will mark the first time Green and Burgess have created a show together.
“After having worked on really great shows created by other people, you want to have your own baby,” Burgess said.
Scribes have known each other for 30 years, been a writing team for 15 (starting with “Northern Exposure”) and were married three years ago.
Green said she and Burgess hope to create “a drama that has a point of view and a sense of humor, maybe a little subversive.”
Burgess added, “We probably won’t do a procedural drama.”