Producing pair to pursue individual interests
Prolific producers Brian Robbins and Mike Tollin are scaling back longstanding Tollin/Robbins Prods. partnership in order to focus more on individual projects.Monday’s announcement, following the recent expiration of TRP’s feature deal at Disney, included news that Robbins has signed a two-year, first-look deal to produce and direct projects at DreamWorks. He told Daily Variety that the new deal makes sense for him after producing a pair of DreamWorks projects — “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story” and “Norbit,” which he also directed. The partners emphasized Monday that while they’ll develop projects separately, they’ll maintain the TRP shingle as exec producers on TV series “One Tree Hill” and “Smallville” for the CW along with producing “The Bronx Is Burning” for ESPN and the docu “Unstrung” for Disney. TRP will also remain home to several feature projects in various stages of development. “We do still have a lot of ongoing business together in TV and feature development,” Robbins said. “But a lot of what we were doing had become management and personnel, so it’s a good time to move in a new direction.” The duo will maintain Studio City offices next to each other and continue jointly coaching their children’s sports teams. “It’s all very amicable,” Tollin said. “We looked at each other recently and agreed we needed to shake things up, in a good way. Professionally and personally, we will continue to be very much in each others’ lives.” Tollin and Robbins launched their shingle more than a decade ago with sports docs “Hardwood Dreams,” “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream” and “The Show,” and then moved into features with “Good Burger” for Paramount and MTV. They developed a specialty in moderately budgeted sports pics including “Varsity Blues,” “Hardball,” “Summer Catch,” “Ready to Rumble,” “Radio” and “Coach Carter.” The duo both produced “Wild Hogs,” which has topped $77 million domsestically, and Robbins is set to direct Eddie Murphy in “Starship Dave.” Tollin’s in pre-production on Lionsgate’s “Tulia,” starring Halle Berry and shooting in May, and is directing “Counting Down” for Greenestreet Pictures and Mandeville Films. TRP exec Sharla Sumpter Bridgett will join Robbins at DreamWorks. On the TV side, the duo initially specialized in comedies and kid fare such as “Arliss,” “The Amanda Show,” “All That” and “Kenan and Kel.” Tollin and Robbins scored their biggest small-screen successes at Warner Bros. TV, where they were part of the team that developed “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill,” as well as the laffer “What I Like About You.” All three shows ended up in syndication. But Tollin-Robbins hasn’t been an active player on the TV scene for about a year, ever since the June expiration of its last overall deal at NBC U TV Studio. Peacock deal yielded no series fruit. Duo’s last two skeins — the NBC drama “Inconceivable” and the ABC laffer “Savages” — were produced under a previous pact at Touchstone (now ABC TV Studio). Both skeins came and went quickly during the 2005-06 television season. Despite denials, it had been clear for some time that Tollin-Robbins was headed for a change. For example, duo never announced a replacement for former development chief Chris Castallo, who ankled the company in 2005 for a gig at NBC. Castallo is now senior VP of alternative at CBS. Robbins, Tollin and TRP are repped by UTA.