CBS Cops Agreement With Bochco

CBS Entertainment has confirmed an exclusive three-series, four-year deal with Steven Bochco. The agreement kicks in Jan. 1,1997, after the producer’s long-term agreement expires at ABC.

The Eye network will be a production partner and the international distributor on programs generated under the co-venture, which also provides Bochco with a development fund. The producer has an existing distribution arrangement with Fox’s Twentieth TV, which will still handle the remaining series under his ABC deal.

In addition to the three-series pact, CBS gets first crack at any Bochco-developed projects passed on by ABC, including some existing ideas already turned down by the network. According to CBS Entertainment prez Peter Tortorici, that could put shows from the “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue” producer on the Eye network – which is in need of some immediate help – well before the exclusive phase of the deal begins.

Bochco has produced six series for ABC under his 7-year-old, 10-series pact at the network, with a seventh, “Murder One,” in pre-production for next season.

Bochco noted that he held discussions with ABC about extending his relationship there (which has shifted from an exclusive to first-look arrangement) but opted not to for various reasons, “not the least of which having to do with their current success.” The Alphabet network has a perceived dearth of available time periods, particularly for the 10 p.m. dramas in which Bochco excels, due in part to ABC’s reliance on newsmagazines.

By contrast, CBS presents “a tremendous opportunity at a specific moment in time,” Bochco said, just as ABC was willing to pony up commitments when its cupboard was less full in the late ’80s.

Bochco saluted former CBS/Broadcast Group prexy Howard Stringer, who helped pave the way for the agreement, but said he was unconcerned about the prospect of additional CBS ownership or management changes. The new deal, he noted, provides him “a great deal of control” both creatively and in business affairs.

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