Producing pair sign with Warner Bros. TV
Josh Schwartz and longtime collaborator Stephanie Savage are plotting an expanded TV empire.
The duo have sealed a rich multiyear pact with Warner Bros. TV to launch Fake Empire, set up at Warner Bros. TV.
Schwartz, the youthful showrunner behind “Gossip Girl” and “Chuck,” had already been set up at Warner Bros. TV under a hefty eight-figure deal, while Savage had an overall deal at the studio as well. In a bit of crafty dealmaking, the duo’s reps at WME took the key elements from both scribes’ deals and merged them together.
Now, rather than hold typical producing deals at Warner Bros., Schwartz’s and Savage’s Fake Empire will take its place alongside some of the studio’s other major pods — including those run by Jerry Bruckheimer, J.J. Abrams and McG.
“Josh and Stephanie are an outstanding creative team, responsible for two of the most iconic television series in recent history in ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘The OC,'” said Warner Bros. TV prexy Peter Roth.
Schwartz said the enterprise, which will be based on the Warner Bros. lot, promises to be “a writer-friendly and writer-driven company.”
Besides reaching out to scribes to develop and produce TV shows for network and cable, Fake Empire is looking to get into the feature film, music, digital, videogame and publishing business as well.
Schwartz and Savage plan to keep Fake Empire’s focus on developing projects for younger auds — a demographic they’ve targeted in the past with “patterns of fairytales” such as “The OC,” “Chuck” and “Gossip Girl.”
The pact finalizes a professional relationship that harks back to “The OC,” when Savage — who was in on the ground floor of McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision production company — helped develop that Fox teen sudser with Schwartz.
Duo then collaborated on “Gossip Girl” for the CW. As Schwartz turned his attention to steering NBC’s “Chuck” (which he co-created with Chris Fedak), Savage continued as “Gossip Girl” showrunner.
“There’s a lot of trust between us,” Schwartz said. “We’re not afraid to pitch bad ideas to each other. Hopefully what this does is take what we do on a daily basis already and formalizes it. We’ve been fortunate to provide each other with a platform to get our shows on the air.”
Schwartz and Savage also have experience in the music world, having produced several soundtrack albums for their series. “The OC,” for example, was often cited for its influential music picks and, being big music fans, the two named Fake Empire after the lead track on the National’s 2007 LP “Boxer.”
In the online space, Schwartz created the music-centric “Rockville CA.” And in features, Schwartz is set to write and direct an update of “Bright Lights, Big City” (which Savage is producing). He also penned the script for the upcoming “X-Men: First Class.”
This pilot season, Schwartz is behind the CBS comedy “Hitched,” which he created with Matt Miller.
Savage started out in development at Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films, working on such pics as “Charlie’s Angels.” That led her to McG and Wonderland, which then produced “The OC.” Savage eventually became an exec producer on the series, and wrote its seminal seg, “The Best Chrismukkah Ever.”
“This seemed like a great time to do this,” Savage said. “The shows are creatively healthy, and we’ve got great teams in place. And Warner Bros. is supportive of this endeavor. It’s the right moment.”