Paramount Television Sets Comedy, Drama Development

Paramount’s nascent TV division has named its head of comedy and drama development along with other key execs working under prexy Amy Powell.

Powell has spent the past few months assembling a handful of high-end projects and a core team of execs. She’s in the unusual position of launching a startup with the benefit of deep pockets and the archive of a studio more than 100 years old.

“It’s not only all the great movies we’ve released over the years but all the books and the articles and the life rights we own, and the great screenplays that never made it to the screen,” Powell told Variety. “To be able to walk in here with a literal clean slate and (chairman) Brad (Grey’s) directive — it’s the best of all worlds.”

For Powell, the focus is on “quality, not quantity” of projects. She’s looking to take advantage of the loosening of development strictures among major broadcast and cable networks. She’s hoping that high-profile auspices and properties, from helmer Joe Carnahan to the “Terminator” franchise, will attract sizable commitments from network buyers. Par TV aims to play the field from broadcast to basic and pay cable to digital outlets.

“We’re trying to target each screen with a piece of material that is appropriate to it,” she said.

Par TV’s slate to date includes a series derived from the “Terminator” franchise with Skydance TV; a limited series based on A. Scott Berg’s Charles Lindbergh biography; a crime drama derived in part from Carnahan’s 2002 feature “Narc”; and an adaptation of the Caleb Carr novel “The Alienist” with Anonymous Content.

Annette Savitch, former head of Natalie Portman’s Handsomecharlie Films, has signed on to head drama development; Jennifer Howell, formerly of 20th Century Fox TV, will oversee comedy.

ABC Studios alum David Goldman will serve as head of business affairs. Jason Fisher, previously with AMC, will oversee production. Par vet Stephanie Love will oversee finance.

Powell was tapped last summer to lead Paramount’s return to active development and production for TV and digital outlets. She’s been with Paramount since 2004 and continues to run its digital entertainment unit and Insurge low-budget feature arm in addition to spearheading TV.

 

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