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 starting work 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.
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.
NABET gets OK to strike NCI H’w’d
Editors at the National Captioning Institute Aug. 25 authorized NABET to call a strike against the institute’s Hollywood office.
In a secret ballot, the editors voted 26-0 to give the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians freedom to call the work stoppage. The vote follows another unanimous decision Aug. 13 to reject the institute’s last contract proposal.
The Hollywood offices of the nation’s largest captioning service for the deaf and hard of hearing could be crippled by a strike with as many as 33 workers walking out.
But NABET spokesman Dick Smith said a strike was not a sure thing. “It takes the union one step closer to calling a strike, but it doesn’t mean there will be one,” Smith said.
Institute rep Don Thieme said the company was ready to “shift the workload accordingly” to handle any potential strike in Hollywood.
He added that only prerecorded programming would be affected by a work stoppage.
Ross leaving NBC’s ‘Cafe’
“Cafe Americain” is undergoing another ownership change before the NBC series hits the air.
Marion Ross, cast only last month as the crusty proprietor of the French cafe where star Valerie Bertinelli goes to work, is almost just as quickly leaving the series — replaced by Lilah Kaye, who played the role in the pilot.
Warner Bros. TV confirmed the switch, made after three days of rehearsal before the Aug. 24 taping. “Marion is a wonderful actress,” exec producer Peter Noah said in a statement, “but we were asking her to play a character that totally goes against her nature.”
Apparently NBC wanted Ross added to the show, while studio officials had wished to keep Kaye all along.
“Cafe Americain” will air at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and is scheduled for a Sept. 18 preview in advance of settling into its regular time period the following week.
Lansbury to host Emmys
In a departure from recent telecasts, Angela Lansbury has been tapped to host the 45th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Lansbury, a 13-time Emmy nominee, has hosted the Tony Awards on three occasions — each time when they were produced by this year’s Emmycast exec producer, Don Mischer.
In recent years on Fox, the Emmys have employed multiple hosts and relied almost exclusively on standup comedians or comic actors. Last year, for example, the show was hosted by Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley and Dennis Miller.
There were reports of discussions with both Garry Shandling and Jerry Seinfeld in regard to hosting this year’s show, but ABC (which consults with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on such decisions) has gone in another direction.