Morgan Wandell set to run TV company
After weeks of speculation, ABC Studios exec Morgan Wandell’s deal to take the reins at Greg Berlanti’s rapidly expanding TV company is official.
Wandell is set to run Berlanti Television, which sealed a five-year pact with ABC Studios in June. In moving to Berlanti’s shingle, Wandell will oversee all TV development and also work on projects for Stage 9, the digital studio launched earlier this year by Disney-ABC Television Group.
Since first moving to ABC Studios in 2006, Berlanti has become one of primetime’s most prolific producers, with three skeins on the Alphabet net’s fall sked: “Brothers & Sisters,” “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Eli Stone.”
Wandell, meanwhile, had been with ABC Studios (formerly Touchstone TV) since July 2004, most recently as senior VP of drama development. Since he joined, the shingle went from just one returning drama on the air — “Alias” — to 17 this season.
Simultaneously, ABC Studios announced Wednesday the other not-so-well-kept secret that Channing Dungey is set to replace Wandell as the new drama topper at ABC Studios. Company had been loath to comment earlier on the changes.
Wandell will begin to transition out of his studio role in the coming weeks. Exec developed a strong relationship with Berlanti after the scribe joined the studio, starting on “Brothers & Sisters” — which Berlanti joined in season one and gave a revamp to.
Following Berlanti’s well-received results on that skein, Wandell developed “Eli Stone” and “Dirty Sexy Money” with the writer-exec producer as well. It was at that time that the duo talked about joining forces on the production side.
“From the beginning, we developed a fantastic shorthand,” Wandell said.
Wandell added that he planned to “be selective and aggressive in trying to grow the company in all sorts of directions.”
Separate from Berlanti, Wandell also developed hits such as “Ugly Betty,” “Private Practice,” “Army Wives,” “Kyle XY,” “Criminal Minds,” “Ghost Whisperer” and “Reaper.” He also helped launched the studio’s “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Wandell’s departure from ABC Studios also comes after he was passed over for the studio exec VP position recently vacated by Julia Franz. According to widespread industry scuttlebutt, the Alphabet net intervened and nixed that promotion. Speculation on who may replace Franz remains centered on Brillstein Entertainment’s Peter Traugott.
Wandell joined Touchstone from Channel One Network, where he was president of programming. Exec was also a VP of development at the dotcom-era startup Digital Entertainment Network, and during a previous stint at Touchstone, he was director of creative affairs, working with producers such as Jerry Bruckheimer and Imagine TV.
“It is going to be a joy to go from building series to building a great company together,” Berlanti said.
Meanwhile, at Berlanti Television, Melissa Berman — who joined in 2006 — remains as a senior executive. Berman played an integral part in developing the shingle’s three skeins.
As for Dungey, who’s been with the studio since 2004, the exec has also had a hand in its dramatic growth in the hourlong world. Dungey will now serve as senior VP of drama development and report to ABC Studio prexy Mark Pedowitz, who called her “the perfect partner in the creative process.”
“The new role gives her the platform to have an even greater impact on our studio and on the television landscape,” he said.
Dungey’s resume also includes stints at Warner Bros. and Material.