Newman reups deal at Fox TV

Gary Newman, the No. 2 exec at Twentieth Century Fox TV, has signed a new deal with the studio that expands his responsibilities at Fox’s network TV production arm.

Industry watchers had questioned whether Newman would stay once Sandy Grushow was brought in in January to replace Peter Roth as president. Newman, 20th’s executive VP, had served as acting head of the division amid the executive shuffle in fall 1996 that saw Roth replace John Matoian as programming chief of Fox Broadcasting Co.

At the time of Grushow’s arrival, there was speculation that after having a taste of running the division, Newman would not want to scale back his responsibilities to the business affairs realm. Since then, however, sources say Grushow has come to depend on Newman as a strong No. 2 who is intimately involved in everything from financial matters to script readings.

“Gary Newman is involved in every single phase of our business,” Grushow said. “We would not be where we are today without his influence.”

Indeed, 20th Century Fox TV is in the midst of its busiest season ever, with some 16 series in production and a presence on the six broadcast networks. Twentieth’s recent successes include the WB Network’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” ABC’s freshman comedy “Dharma & Greg,” and Fox’s “Ally McBeal” and “King of the Hill.”

Newman also is credited with being a key architect of 20th’s drive over the past two years to recruit top comedy talent — an area where the studio had been flagging. The division now boasts exclusive pacts with a number of noted sitcom writers and producers, including Chuck Lorre (“Grace Under Fire,” “Cybill”) and Danny Jacobson (“Mad About You”).

Newman, 43, has been with 20th since 1990, most recently serving as executive VP of business and legal affairs. Before coming to Fox, Newman spent six years as a business affairs exec for NBC. He also served a stint in the legal department of Columbia Pictures Television.

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