Nicky Weinstock

Exec will oversee growing slate of comedies produced via Debmar-Mercury's innovative model

Lionsgate TV and Debmar-Mercury have recruited producer Nicky Weinstock to oversee creative development of comedies produced using its innovative “10/90″ deal template.

Lionsgate TV topper Kevin Beggs is bringing in an exec to specifically focus on its 10/90 shows as the slate of comedies produced on the accelerated timetable is growing. The format was pioneered by Debmar-Mercury, the autonomous syndication company owned by Lionsgate and headed by Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, to ensure that successful comedies reached the off-market — and thus profitability — at a quicker pace than traditional network comedies.

Weinstock will focus on development of multiple existing 10/90 projects and recruiting talent for prospective new series.

 “I’m hugely excited to dive back into the world of multicamera sitcoms and to team with companies as innovative as Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury,” Weinstock told Variety. “A venture as intelligent as the 10/90 model makes this a rare combination of fun and smart.”

The 10/90 format calls for a network to order 10 episodes of a prospective series, forgoing a pilot, and commit to quickly ordering another 90 episodes if the first 10 episodes reach pre-determined ratings targets. The 90-episode order allows for accelerated production skeds, which yields cost savings and allows Debmar to pitch the amassed episodes to the syndication market more quickly than the typical four- to five-year timetable for primetime series.

At present, Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury have 10/90 shows on the air at FX, with Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management,” and TBS, with the Ice Cube produced “Are We There Yet.” A domestic comedy toplined by George Lopez, “Saint George,” is set to roll its 10-episode trial on FX next year, and another high-profile property starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence is in the works. Kevin James, former star of CBS’ “The King of Queens,” is also eying an 10/90 vehicle as part of a wide-ranging pact he recently inked with Lionsgate.

Weinstock has spent the past two years working as a film producer on the Fox lot, shepherding projects through the Fox Writers Studio initiative. He previously worked as a comedy development exec at 20th Century Fox TV, and then shifted to overseeing development for Judd Apatow Prods. He returned to Fox in 2009 to oversee comedy development for film and TV for Chernin Entertainment. Weinstock famously got his start in the biz as a young speechwriter for News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch.

Weinstock said he was drawn to the 10/90 job at Lionsgate because the track record of the existing shows has been solid and proven to be a formula that allows creatives to call the shots as they see fit. The model, of course, hinges on the strength of the talent to bring an immediately recognizable brand to the screen and the skill of showrunners in managing the faster production pace.

“If you can assemble a strong enough team, the genius of the 10/90 approach enables teams of writers, actors and directors to make more talent-based comedy with less corporate interference than has ever been possible before,” Weinstock said.

Weinstock is making the move to Lionsgate’s Santa Monica offices at the end of this week. In addition to his new full-time gig, he will continue to develop select TV and film properties for Lionsgate and outside shops.

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