Fontana returns to ‘Philanthropist’

NBC, showrunner settle creative differences

Tom Fontana has returned to NBC’s midseason drama “The Philanthropist.”

Fontana replaces David Eick, who will now focus his attention on the “Battlestar Galactica” spinoff “Caprica,” which just scored a series order from Sci Fi.

Move reps a major reversal for Peacock execs and Fontana, who parted ways in April. Fontana and producing partner Barry Levinson exited “The Philanthropist” after NBC decided to make a creative change on the show.

According to reports at the time, Fontana wanted to make a grittier, more authentic show, while NBC execs were looking for more escapism and wish fulfillment.

With “Battlestar Galactica” finishing its run, Eick was free to step in and replace Fontana. But now that Eick has been let go, Fontana was available and willing to resume his role on the show. (Levinson won’t be back, however.)

“The Philanthropist” has seen many changes during its development. Show was earlier turned into an international co-production as a budget-saving measure. It’s currently being shot overseas (in London, the Czech Republic and South Africa).

The return of Fontana reps the first major creative move by new NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios primetime prexy Angela Bromstad.

NBC U insiders said the creative differences between the network/studio and Fontana have been worked out, and he’s now back to overseeing the writing on the show.

NBC has ordered eight episodes of “Philanthropist” (down from its original order of 13); Fontana will now be charged with reworking those scripts as they continue to lense. Only the pilot has been shot so far.

James Purefoy, Jesse L. Martin and Neve Campbell star; Charlie Corwin, who originated the project, also exec produces, along with Peter Horton, who continues as showrunner.

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