Peacock sets first-look deal with prolific 'Smash' producers
Universal TV and NBCUniversal Intl. have inked a development deal with “Smash” exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.Under the pact, the Storyline Entertainment pair will give Universal TV and NBCU a first look at projects created for national and international television markets. Pair aims to create shows that are “unique, provocative and noisy” like “Smash,” according to Zadan. The duo has also been inspired by the success of “Downton Abbey,” which NBCU Intl. TV produces through its U.K.-based Carnival Films unit. “NBCU International is involved with shows like ‘Downton.’ That show is an instant classic,” Zadan told Variety. “Those high class international productions appeal to us. I think we have certain talent we are associated with and friends with — be it directors, actors, writers — and this deal gives us the opportunity to work with them and put together limited and regular series for the international markets.” Zadan and Meron are known for their big and small screen takes on Broadway productions like “Chicago” and “Hairspray.” In addition to “Smash” on the small screen, the pair currently serve as producers on Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” and recently produced Lifetime’s forthcoming telepic “Steel Magnolias,” starring Queen Latifah. Zadan and Meron will also produce NBC’s live holiday event telecast of “The Sound of Music.” Pair, however, does not want to be “pigeon-holed as just the guys that do musicals,” Meron said. “Our tastes are broader than that…we’re exploring all genres,” continued Meron. “The incredible creativity, vision and intelligence that the two bring to all their projects — on television, in film and on Broadway — is exactly what the future of Universal Television is all about,” said Bela Bajaria, exec veep of Universal Television, in announcing the pact.