You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jersey TV revving up slate

Nets ink a dozen deals

One year after setting up shop at 20th Century Fox Television, Jersey Television is moving forward with an ambitious 2000-01 primetime development slate.

Under recently hired prexy John Landgraf, Jersey Television seems to be closely following parent company Jersey Films’ strategy of pursuing offbeat projects with commercial appeal.

Pilots in development include “Celebrity,” a comedy-drama about young stars from scribe Shane Salerno (“Shaft”); an hourlong sibling drama from “Profiler” creator Cynthia Saunders; a comedic soap opera from scribes Chris Lynch and Loren Segan for Fox Broadcasting; and a half-hour laffer about struggling artists in N.Y.’s East Village from writer David Goldsmith and exec producer Whoopi Goldberg.

Plethora of pitches

While Jersey partners Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher tapped Landgraf to head Jersey Television just five months ago, the unit has quickly found success pitching projects to programmers, inking nearly a dozen standard and premium script deals with networks. Jersey also has five projects in active development at 20th Century Fox Television and is working on several telefilms and a reality skein.

“We want to be a full-service boutique company,” Landgraf said Monday, outlining his goals for Jersey TV in an interview with Daily Variety. A chief priority, he said, is transforming Jersey Television into a brand with the same aura as Jersey Films, much as Imagine Television has come to be identified with quality product.

“This slate represents an attempt to re-create in television the brand and identity Jersey has painstakingly carved out for itself in film, which is for smart, funny, stylish entertainment.”

Over the past decade, Jersey has produced pics such as “Hoffa,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight” and “Living Out Loud.” The studio’s next big pics include the Jim Carrey starrer “Man on the Moon” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Erin Brokovich,” with Julia Roberts.

Beyond expectations

Landgraf, a former NBC veep of primetime series, said that when he arrived at Jersey at the end of May, his best-case scenario was for the company to have around 10 projects in development for fall 2000. The unit now has 16 projects in the script stage, divided evenly between comedy and drama, and several more comedy scripts are expected to be pitched to webs.

Execs at 20th Century Fox Television said they’re thrilled at how successful Jersey has been during its first real development season.

“We take our partnerships very seriously, and when we made the deal with Jersey we fully committed ourselves to helping them make their mark in television as they’d done so successfully in film,” said 20th Century Fox Television topper Sandy Grushow. “And I think the quality and quantity of the projects thus far in development speak volumes about the hard work on both sides that’s gone into making that commitment a reality.”

Added 20th Century Fox Television drama exec veep Dana Walden: “There are a lot of vanity labels out there, but what’s different about Jersey is that they’ve picked the right guy (in Landgraf) to run their company. The result is that they’ve produced twice, maybe three times as many projects (as most similar deals).”

Despite the unusually large number of projects in the works, execs at the company said there’s no plan to transform the unit from a boutique supplier into a TV factory.

Quality not quantity

“We’re not in the volume business. We’re in the quality business,” said Shamberg. “I’m delighted about our development because every one of the projects has a reason for being that you can be excited about.”

Landgraf added that the number of skeins in development at Jersey is still small enough to allow for careful shepherding of each project. “We’re still able to devote real time and attention to everything we do,” he said.

Jersey Television has yet to receive a production commitment for any of its projects, but that’s not surprising considering most of the talent involved in the unit’s would-be skeins are not heavyweight TV commodities. Instead, the scribes and producers attached are a mix of tyro feature scribes, playwrights and relatively young TV writers.

In addition to the aforementioned projects, Jersey Television has also sold scripts for the following:

  • Feature scribe Kayla Alpert (“Bitch, Bitch, Bitch”) has created an hourlong romantic comedy-mystery skein about two independent forensic consultants (NBC).

  • A contemporary take on “The Graduate” called “The Left Coast” from scribe Richard Kelly, who wrote the unsold feature “Donnie Darko” (Fox).

  • Scribes Jason Keller and Steve Young are working on a comedic action skein in the vein of “Get Shorty.” Keller teamed with DeVito to write “Sugar’s Sweet Science of Bruising,” starring and directed by DeVito (Fox).

  • Scribe Kip Koenig (“Wasteland”) has penned a romantic comedy-drama from the point of view of a female radio talkshow host (NBC).

  • Comedy troupe Broken Lizard is working on a half-hour comedy for Fox.

  • TNBC vets Robert Tarlow (“One World,” “Hang Time”) and Robin Schwartz are developing a half-hour sitcom about a group of high school teens who run an Internet business (Fox).

  • Feature scribe Sal Stabile (“Gravesend”) has created a half-hour laffer described as “The Wonder Years” meets “American Pie” (Fox).

  • Ross Venokur (“Kenan & Kel”) is behind “Scarsdale,” a suburban-set sitcom with a nontraditional teen protagonist.

More TV

  • Hulu Picks Up Anna Friel Drama

    Hulu Picks Up Anna Friel Drama ‘Butterfly’

    Hulu has snagged U.S. rights to “Butterfly,” the family drama about separated parents who disagree over how to deal with their youngest child, Max, who was born a boy but identifies as a girl. The series was commissioned by ITV in the U.K. “Marcella” star Anna Friel plays Max’s mother, Vicky, and Emmett J. Scanlon [...]

  • Rupert Murdoch

    BBC Orders Documentary Series on Rupert Murdoch’s Print Empire

    The BBC has ordered “A Tabloid Empire,” a three-part documentary series on Rupert Murdoch’s influence over the British press. The series will air on BBC Two in the U.K. and examine in detail Britain’s popular press between 1997 and 2012, a period that covers phone hacking and corruption but that also saw Murdoch’s and other [...]

  • Supergirl -- "Elseworlds, Part 3" --

    'Elseworlds, Part 3' Recap: 2019 ‘Arrowverse’ Crossover Theme Revealed

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Elseworlds, Part 2,” the final part of the 2018 “Arrowverse” crossover, which aired Dec. 11. After John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) got another go at using the Book of Destiny to rewrite reality, the “Elseworlds” finale saw Barry (Grant Gustin) and Oliver (Stephan Amell) facing [...]

  • The Netflix logo is displayed at

    TV Roundup: Netflix Orders Ted Bundy Docu-Series

    In today’s TV roundup, Netflix has ordered a docu-series on serial killer Ted Bundy and “Love, Gilda” sets a premiere date on CNN FIRST LOOKS Variety has obtained an exclusive clip of “Into the Okavango,” the upcoming National Geographic film. Premiering Dec. 14 on Nat Geo, the film, six years in the making, follows a [...]

  • Amy Poehler Is Ready for a

    Amy Poehler Is Ready for a 'Parks and Rec' Reunion

    Is Amy Poehler just getting our hopes up? We hope not, because the funny lady tells Variety that she’s ready for a “Parks and Recreation” reunion. “I am technically available,” Poehler said on Monday at Smart Girls’ 10th anniversary celebration dinner. “I have like six of Leslie’s blazers in my closet, so anytime.” “Parks and Recreation” [...]

  • Liz Meriwether Lake Bell

    Lake Bell, Liz Meriwether Comedy 'Bless This Mess' Moves From Fox to ABC With Series Order

    “Bless This Mess,” the single-camera comedy co-created by Lake Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether, has been ordered to series at ABC, Variety has learned. The series had previously been in contention at Fox and is a co-production between 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios. Bell also stars in the series alongside Dax Shepard. In the series, a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content