“The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan has sealed a three-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox, where he already has several new projects in the works.
Under the pact, Ryan has also launched a shingle, Midd Kid Prods., and has brought aboard Fox TV Studios exec Marney Hochman Nash to handle development.
“I want this company to be a real hothouse for writers,” Ryan said.
Ryan has already spent the past three years at 20th Century Fox TV, where he developed current CBS skein “The Unit” with David Mamet. Deal also keeps the scribe firmly entrenched inside News Corp., where “The Shield” (co-produced by Fox TV Studios and Sony) is finishing up its seventh and final season for FX.
“I feel like I’ve been very good to News Corp. as an organization, and they’ve been good to me,” Ryan said. Twentieth Century Fox TV had already picked up an option from Ryan’s previous deal; that’s now been rolled into this three-year pact, which has an additional option as well.
“We believe Shawn Ryan is the kind of guy who can deliver the hit show for us,” 20th Century Fox TV prexy Gary Newman said. “He’s proven with ‘The Shield’ and ‘The Unit’ that he’s got tremendous range. And he’s able to command the kind of commitment and license fee that gives your show every chance to be successful.”
With the backing of the studio, Ryan now plans to continue developing drama but also has his sights set on comedy (the genre in which the scribe actually got his start) and even reality TV.
The writer-producer is already aboard Fox supernatural drama “The Oaks” as showrunner and exec producer, working with creator David Schulner (Daily Variety, Aug. 7). He’s also working on a new drama with Sharon Lee Watson and Todd Kessler, who labor under Ryan on “The Unit.”
Ryan also hopes to start thinking about his own next project but plans to wait until “The Shield” is wrapped so that he’s not stretched too thin.
“I don’t feel free to come up with and pitch that completely original idea just yet,” he said. “I owe ‘The Shield’ my time to see that through properly. Come November, when that’s done, it will free up the creative juices to see what’s next.”
In the meantime, Hochman Nash has been busy concluding her obligations to Fox TV Studios while getting a jump on development for Midd Kid. The exec’s official last day at Fox TV Studios is Friday; she moves to Midd Kid immediately afterwards.
Hochman Nash said it wasn’t easy to leave FTVS, where she not only worked closely with Ryan in developing “The Shield” but also developed the critical faves “Thief” and “The Riches.” She spent eight years there as senior VP of scripted programming; execs are now scouting for her replacement.
“I always wanted to be closer to production and writers, and this was a fantastic opportunity to do all those things,” Hochman Nash said.
Hochman Nash said she’d like to emulate successful shingles like Bad Robot, Wonderland Sound and Vision and Berlanti Television.
Ryan said he was also inspired growing up by MTM, the famed home of “Hill Street Blues,” “Newhart” and “The White Shadow.” He hopes to emulate that range with Midd Kid (which is named after his alma mater, Middlebury College).
“My first paying job in 1995 was writing a sitcom pilot for MTM,” Ryan said. “I look back at the shows MTM did in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I like the breadth of what they were able to accomplish.”
Newman said he sees Ryan as cultivating a career like the one enjoyed by the likes of David E. Kelley.
As for sticking with 20th, Ryan said he liked the fact that the studio isn’t just married to producing for sibling net Fox — “The Unit” went to CBS.
Ryan isn’t opposed to working with Fox: The net’s Peter Liguori and Kevin Reilly, after all, gave Ryan his big break with “The Shield” at FX, and he’s now developing “The Oaks” at Fox. But Ryan said he liked the flexibility of selling to any network.
“I don’t know where my next idea is going to be,” he said. “But I know at 20th I can sell it wherever it needs to be sold.”
Ryan is repped by Endeavor and Larry Shuman