Director signs seven-figure deal with network
Helmer Richard Shepard (“The Matador”) is reuniting with ABC Studios, inking a seven-figure deal to direct two pilots for the Alphabet production arm.Shepard’s first two TV projects — the pilots for the ABC Studios-produced skeins “Ugly Betty” and “Criminal Minds” — were hits. Last month, Shepard snagged an Emmy for his work on the “Betty” prototype. Despite a good relationship with ABC Studios, Shepard shifted to NBC’s Universal Media Studios last year. He will soon begin production on the half-hour comedy pilot “Zip” for the Peacock. Shepard said that while he has enjoyed working with UMS, ABC Studios had been actively “trying to get me back into the fold” ever since he left. “They offered me this very lucrative deal,” he said. “And it was also nice that they offered the chance to do two pilots.” After wrapping “Zip,” Shepard said he’ll immediately make himself available to ABC to direct at least one pilot, and quite possibly a second, during the upcoming development season. On the feature front, Shepard followed up the critically hailed “Matador” with Richard Gere starrer “The Hunting Party,” which he wrote and directed. While he mulled the idea of serving as a director for hire on his next feature, Shepard said his current plan is to write and direct his next project. “I really like the idea of being as individualistic in my filmmaking as I can be,” he said, adding that he’s currently working on a spec script. “But the TV stuff, I don’t write; I’m brought in at the end to help fulfill someone else’s vision. It’s a nice balance.” Shepard’s deal was brokered by Gersh and Industry Entertainment.