Ellen DeGeneres is moving beyond the talkshow stage at Warner Bros.
The former “American Idol” judge has signed an exclusive multiyear pact with the studio to enter into the scripted, reality and social-media worlds via her shingle, A Very Good Production. She will exec produce several projects of various genres going forward.
Concurrently, DeGeneres has named former Comedy Central original programming topper Lauren Corrao as president of her shingle.
“I’m so happy to be expanding my relationship with Warner Bros. It’s kind of becoming a family affair. My brother works on the lot and fingers crossed, my mother’s up for the role of Charlie Sheen’s love interest on ‘Two and a Half Men.’ So this is really working out,” DeGeneres said.
The production pact is separate from her contract to host “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
DeGeneres has become a fixture on the Warner Bros. lot, and her talker is a cash cow for the studio since “Ellen” launched in 2003.
Her stature is likely only going to rise when Oprah Winfrey ends her talkshow next September, as Warners is counting on DeGeneres to fill the daytime void.
In February, Warner Bros. further established DeGeneres’ place in the post-Winfrey talkshow firmament when it pacted with 10 NBC O&Os through the 2013-14 season. Previously, there was speculation that “Ellen” might move over to ABC in the same timeslots Winfrey is losing, but the Peacock didn’t want to see its premier daytime program jump ship.
Currently, “Oprah” still reigns over all competitors in the talkshow syndie scorecard. In the week ending Oct. 10, Winfrey’s chatfest drew an average of 6.1 million viewers a day with a 4.6 household rating, while DeGeneres came in with a 1.9 rating. In the 25-54 female demo that advertisers crave, “Oprah” came in at a 3.0 while “Ellen” recorded a 1.3.Studio hoped DeGeneres would become even more popular after she was named a judge on “American Idol” this year, but that experiment lasted only one season.
Corrao’s shift to head up A Very Good Production comes nearly a year after she departed Comedy Central, where she was head of both original programming and development. She was responsible for many of the cabler’s top programs during her seven years at the net — including “Chappelle’s Show,” “Reno 911” and “The Sarah Silverman Program” — and played a vital role making the celebrity roasts into top-rated draws.
Currently, she’s exec producing MTV pilot “The Inbetweeners,” a Stateside adaptation of the Brit high school comedy series.
“Ellen is an inspiration and a pioneer both personally and professionally, and I’ve always been a huge fan of hers. I feel incredibly lucky to be charged with capturing her brand as a producer and building this company together from the ground up,” Corrao said.
As for projects the two might be developing at Warner Bros., studio was reticent about giving out details but did say DeGeneres would exec produce primetime scripted fare for both Warner Bros. and projects for the Warner Horizon unit. She’ll also continue to work with “Ellen” producer Telepictures.
In addition, DeGeneres — who has more than 5 million followers on Twitter — will have a first-look deal with the studio for any type of social-media or digital gaming program.