Twentieth, Norris-Clay ink pact

Pamela Norris and Paul Clay, formerly the executive producer and creative consultant of CBS’ “Designing Women,” have signed an exclusive multiyear overall deal with Twentieth TV.

Norris and Clay, who are husband and wife in addition to writing partners, are generally credited with penning some of the femcom’s more diverting episodes. During the three seasons the duo were writing for the show (1989-92), “Designing Women” not only earned critical kudos but was regularly among the top 20 Nielsen-rated shows.

In addition to their stint working for Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason, Clay and Norris have written for “Miami Vice,””My Two Dads,””Saturday Night Live” and “The Arsenio Hall Show.”

Norris also has written several features, including the Shelley Long vehicle “Troop Beverly Hills.” At present she is startingwork on a “Beetlejuice” sequel for Geffen.

Twentieth TV network TV president Peter Roth refused to discuss exact terms of the deal, but sources familiar with the negotiations suggest it is in the low seven figures.

Roth, who took over from Steve Bell as president of the division this spring, did say Twentieth is “trying to be in business with the best available talent for our money. Pam and Paul represent a great opportunity to diversify our slate of writing talent. What’s exciting about these two is that they come from terrific auspices. And they’re at a stage in their career when they are ready to score on their own.”

Aside from marking a financial step up the producing food chain for the writing team, the deal is significant because it sends a signal that Twentieth is eagerly courting writing and producing talent.

Next wave services

While Twentieth has not demonstrated that it is willing to pony up the megabucks prerequisite to attract the likes of Matt Williams and Michael Jacobs, they are clearly interested in securing the services of the next generation of up-and-coming sitcom creators.

The Norris deal also marks one of the first major acquisitions of talent from the defunct Reeves Entertainment stable. While at Reeves in an overall deal, Norris and Clay penned the pilots “Trailer Park” and “My Life on Video.”

Norris and Clay are represented by the Gersh Agency’s Ken Neisser, who brokered the deal.

Said Neisser, “In this economic climate this is a very strong deal. Pam and Paul did not need or actively seek an overall deal after Reeves, but Fox made sense on a creative level and the folks there were sincere in their enthusiasm (for my clients).”

Other producers on the Twentieth lot are Jeff Abugov (“Roc,””Roseanne”) Jamie Wooten & Mark Cherry (“Golden Girls”) and George Meyer (“The Simpsons”).

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