HOLLYWOOD — Producer Jonathan Axelrod has inked a multiyear development deal with Paramount Network Television, in the process dissolving his five-year Par-based production partnership with Jamie Widdoes.
Axelrod will create, develop and produce comedy and drama programs for Par via his new Axelrod Entertainment shingle. Widdoes is ankling to concentrate on his career as a director.
“This is probably the most amicable partnership breakup in history,” Axelrod said. “Jamie wanted to do more freelance directing, while I was interested in producing shows along with movies.”
Together with ‘Kiss’
While the deal takes effect immediately, Axelrod and Widdoes will continue to work together as exec producers, with Marc Cherry, on the CBS midseason laffer “Kiss Me Guido.” Widdoes will direct every episode of “Guido.”
“We’ll still be seeing each other every day,” Axelrod said.
Axelrod said he’ll focus on launching “Guido” before turning his attention to developing series for fall 2001. Still, the producer already has a number of projects in the works under his new banner — including two dramas and six half-hours.
“That’s why I’m so tired — and the season hasn’t even started yet,” he joked. “It’s obviously a great challenge to go off on my own, but time will tell whether it will be a good idea.”
Axelrod is working closely with a number of his “Guido” team, such as Cherry, Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, as well as consulting producers John Pardee and Joey Murphy, to develop some of his new projects.
“Jonathan is one of the best producers in the business, and we are thrilled to have his creative talents here at Paramount,” said Tom Mazza, exec veep of creative affairs at Par’s TV arm.
Axelrod and Widdoes first teamed up on the Harry Anderson starrer “Dave’s World,” which ran four seasons (1993-97) on the Eye. The duo also produced the ABC skein “Brother’s Keeper” and the WB laffer “Movie Stars.”
Before partnering with Widdoes, Axelrod produced telefilms such as the HBO movie “Against the Wall.” His resume also includes stints as president of New World Pictures; exec VP of worldwide production at Columbia Pictures Television; and several exec positions at ABC Entertainment, including veep of drama development and exec producer of motion pictures for television.
All told, Axelrod said he’s produced about 200 movies for television, adding that he hopes to produce some TV movies under his Paramount deal.
“They’ve been very open about letting me do things I feel like doing,” he said.
Axelrod is repped by Alan Berger at AMG and attorney Jared Levine.