The talks are ongoing between NBC, Universal Media Studios and DirecTV, but they hit a big pothole earlier this week. At one point it looked like the deal might crater. But fortunately for the show’s loyal cadre of fans, the right phone call was made in the nick of time on Wednesday to hopefully get it all back on track.
It comes down to — what else? — money issues, and how much DirecTV will kick in to cover the cost of production on the show, which is estimated at a modest $2 million-$2.5 million per seg. They’ve been talking about doing 13 episodes per season, and giving DirecTV the exclusive first window, as the partners did for the show’s third season, which bowed commercial-free on the satcaster in the fall and in January on NBC.
The biggest thing the Imagine TV production has in its favor is the desire for the deal to make on the part of the key players. Universal wants to keep the show going to amass enough episodes for a syndication sale down the road and to generally enhance the show’s library value. NBC wants the prestige of supporting a show beloved by critics, even though it’s never been able to draw a big aud. And most of the key cast members are on record as saying they’re in if NBC and DirecTV are.
“FNL” exec producer and showrunner Jason Katims is busy now on a high-profile new pilot for NBC, U and Imagine, a new spin on the 1989 Imagine feature “Parenthood.” Assuming “Parenthood” gets picked up, the network and studio would help him work out a sked to allow him to juggle both shows. By all accounts, Katims is a prolific writer and utterly devoted to “FNL.”
So — Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose — and fingers crossed. The next few days should be pivotal for these negotiations.