Abrams, Benson join Silverman's NBC posse
“Entourage” co-exec producers Marc Abrams and Michael Benson are now hanging out with Ben Silverman’s Peacock posse.Duo — who operate under their Catapult banner — have inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Universal Media Studios to develop and produce drama, comedy and reality programming. They’ll write some projects themselves, in addition to supervising and co-developing with other scribes. Catapult has already set up several projects under the deal, including a potential put pilot and a script from Mark O’Keefe (“Bruce Almighty”). Deal with Catapult is one of the most significant writer-producer deals Silverman has made since joining NBC U in the summer, and reps a reunion for all parties involved. Catapult had been based at Reveille, the company founded by Silverman. Silverman, who serves as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and UMS, said he’s looking to Abrams and Benson to produce a significant amount of projects. “They have tons of smart ideas that I know will result in a lot of hit programs for us at NBC Universal,” Silverman said. During a telephone interview from Europe, the Peacock boss said the duo bring multiple talents to the table. “They’ve got great voices and they understand television, plus they’re really great producers as well,” he said. “They’re also magnets for bringing in other talent. They’re just tremendous assets for us.” Indeed, Catapult is already busy on numerous fronts. Pending a deal with a writer, NBC is poised to make a put pilot commitment to “E,” a one-hour comedy set in an ad agency that’s desperate to land a major account. Based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Beaumont, story will be told via a series of e-mails. And with Silverman saying that Omnicom is on board as a partner, the potential for product placement (a specialty of Silverman’s) is obvious.
“We want to push the form forward with this show,” Silverman said, explaining that because of the e-mail theme, the skein will exist “on both TV and online.” Robert Riesenberg of Full Circle Entertainment is attached as an exec producer, while Glowcast will also produce. Catapult has also set up “Serial Frank” at NBC, enlisting O’Keeefe to write the pilot script. Based on a French Canadian format, skein is a single-camera comedy about a guy trying to deal with the physical manifestations of his personality. Distraction, a format and distribution company, is licensing “Serial Frank” to NBC U. Abrams and Benson are also co-creators and exec producers of the previously announced put pilot “Zip,” which was written by Mark Rizzo. That project, along with “E” and “Serial Frank,” is being produced in association with Reveille. In addition, Catapult has acquired the spec script “Clout” from scribe Mark Betancourt and set it up at UMS. It’s about a generation of cops struggling for power within the agency. Silverman expects to read the script next month. Abrams said he and Benson were looking to create a haven for scribes, and NBC U was the ideal place for that. “Our vision has always been to have a company for writers run by writers — a place where everybody speaks the same language and the process can truly be creative,” he said. Benson added Catapult expected “a long and fruitful collaboration” with the conglom. Abrams and Benson are Emmy-nommed in the comedy series category for their work on “Entourage,” having co-exec produced 20 segs of the HBO hit. Before “Entourage,” scribes were head writers and co-exec producers for Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show.” Abrams and Benson are repped by UTA, along with attorneys Barry Hirsh and Ryan Nord.