Deborah Liebling to lead Red Hour's TV expansion

Red Hour Films is getting into the TV business.

Ben Stiller’s shingle has signed an overall deal with ABC Studios and brought in Deborah Liebling, formerly president of production at Universal Pictures, to oversee its TV expansion.

Pact marks a coup for ABC Studios, which has been beefing up its roster of overall deals. While financial terms were not disclosed, the deal runs through May 2013 with an option for an additional year. No specific projects have been queued up yet for development.

Liebling comes to Red Hour after an 18-month stint at Universal, which she exited in May amid a restructuring that saw the elevation of Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum. Prior to Universal, where she shepherded hit film “Bridesmaids,” she spent seven years at 20th Century Fox, the last two of which she served as president of Fox Atomic Pictures. “Borat” and “Dodgeball” came out of the studio under her watch.

But Liebling also has solid TV credentials having worked as senior VP, original programming and development, at Comedy Central, where she oversaw hits including “South Park” and “The Man Show.” She’s also worked in various capacities on productions for nets including MTV, HBO, NBC, Nickelodeon and FX.

“Debbie is an incredibly talented executive,” said Stiller. “I am hoping she helps us get a show on the air that is culturally relevant, groundbreaking, and doesn’t get cancelled after 12 episodes.”

Stiller is no stranger to TV himself, having starred and produced in his own Fox sketch comedy show, in the early 1990s, “The Ben Stiller Show.” Even in failure he made a memorable mark on the medium; 1999 pilot “Heat Vision and Jack” starring Jack Black was passed on by Fox, but became a cult classic of sorts.

Red Hour remains busy at 20th Century Fox on the film side, where Stiller is currently working on “Neighborhood Watch” in anticipation of a July 2012 release.

(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this story.)

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