You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox prescription

'ER' creator Crichton, ATG pack for drama

In a blockbuster deal worth upwards of $20 million, megascribe Michael Crichton has inked with Artists Television Group to write and exec produce an hourlong drama series for Fox Broadcasting — his first since creating “ER” for NBC in 1994.

Fox has committed to 13 episodes of the series at a per-seg license fee of $1.5 million. Crichton, whose feature blockbusters include “Jurassic Park” and “Twister,” will receive additional fees above and beyond his share of the license fee.

The skein will be produced by Crichton’s Constant C Prods. in association with ATG and is being targeted for late fall 2000 or early 2001. Concept for the program has yet to be determined, though the hour will not be based in a hospital.

The deal was announced Tuesday by Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow and Fox Entertainment prexy Doug Herzogat the web’s portion of the winter 2000 Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Home base

“We couldn’t be any more excited to become home to such a prestigious project,” Grushow said. “I am delighted to continue a long-term relationship with Michael Ovitz, Eric Tannenbaum and all the great people now creating great television at ATG.”

ATG topper Tannenbaum calls the agreement “a tremendous deal.”

Crichton “created the biggest show in the history of television, both creatively and commercially. Everything he does is smart and intelligent, and this is a tremendous opportunity for Fox and ATG.”

Crichton signed with Artists Management Group, the sister company of ATG, last fall. A deal with AMG to produce the skein for Fox Broadcasting came together later, with Tannenbaum, Ovitz and ATG’s Sandra Stern negotiating the pact with Grushow.

Disastrous fall

After bluntly owning up to the disaster that was Fox’s fall 1999 lineup, Grushow and Herzog also outlined several other development deals they hope will help rebuild the web, including:

  • a two-series comedy commitment with the Carsey-Werner Co. One skein will be produced by Bonnie and Terry Turner; the other is being developed by “3rd Rock From the Sun” producers Bill Martin and Mike Schiff;

  • previously announced development deals with Tom Hanks, Haxan Films, Barry Sonnenfeld, Tom Fontana, John Ridley, Mark Tinker, Richard Donner, Renny Harlin and John Leguizamo; and,

  • a first-look deal with “Ally McBeal” producer David E. Kelley, which will funnel product exclusively through 20th Century Fox Television to Fox Broadcasting through the former’s new long-term production and distribution pact (Daily Variety, Oct. 27, 1999).

“David is absolutely brilliant, surrounds himself with great actors, terrific producers and top-flight executives, and time after time proves with his pen that he’s perfectly in tune with the public, if not one step ahead,” Grushow said. “He is a true treasure, and we have all the faith in the world that the unprecedented success this corporation has enjoyed with him will continue far into the future.”

Following the formal session, Grushow also said 20th Century Fox Television is developing, with “X-Files” creator Chris Carter, a possible “Files” spinoff focusing on the Lone Gunmen characters featured on a recurring basis in “X Files.” Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban are working on the project with Carter.

The Crichton project is a major get for Fox, which could soon find itself seriously in need of new franchise hours. Grushow said Tuesday the odds were “no better than 50/50” that “The X-Files” will be back next fall and that it might not make sense to continue with “Party of Five” if a number of expected cast defections turn the show into “Party of Two,” as he quipped.

More TV

  • Russian Doll Natasha Lyonne

    TV Review: 'Russian Doll'

    This is a particularly tricky review to write, but not because the merits of “Russian Doll” are at all ambiguous. On the contrary, the show is so striking and smart that I made a note to include it on my favorite TV shows of 2019 immediately after blowing through the season — which is saying [...]

  • Black Earth Rising Review

    TV Review: 'Black Earth Rising'

    Bringing to bear a talented cast on a story of real geopolitical significance, “Black Earth Rising,” Netflix’s drama about the long-tail aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, would seem to have had the potential to be one of 2019’s early television successes. Which makes its falling short all the more painful and pronounced. The show, previously [...]

  • DIRTY JOHN -- "This Young Woman

    'Dirty John' Finale Hits New Ratings Highs in Live+3

    The Season 1 finale of “Dirty John” on Bravo continued the scripted show’s ratings hot streak in Live+3. The finale, which aired on Jan. 13, grew to 3.3 million viewers in delayed viewing with 1.3 million of those falling in the key adults 18-49 demographic. That is up 10% in total viewers and 15% in [...]

  • Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join

    Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join ITV-Backed Production Company Possessed

    Former Sky One and Sky Living programming chief Adam MacDonald has joined Possessed, and will be the ITV-owned production banner’s first chair. The U.K.-based unscripted producer has also hired Lesley Davies, former head of international production at Warner Bros. She will head up production. The double hires follow a recommission  of gameshow “5 Gold Rings,” [...]

  • China’s CGTN Boards ‘Drowning in Plastic’

    China’s CGTN Boards ‘Drowning in Plastic’ Documentary

    China Global Television Network, the English-language news channel that is part of China Central Television, has come on board high profile environmental documentary “Drowning in Plastic.” The show is represented by all3media international, and the agreement is the first between the two companies. CGTN comes on board as co-producer alongside Raw, and BBC One. The [...]

  • Operation Red Sea review

    Chinese Entertainment Industry Braces for a 'Cold Winter' in 2019

    Winter is here for the Chinese entertainment industry, a half-dozen top-tier industry professionals concurred in Beijing at the launch last week of Tencent Entertainment’s annual data-filled white paper. China’s box office hit new heights in 2018, raking in about $9 billion, but it was also a year of drastic regulatory changes and a government tax [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content