20th crowns ‘King’ duo

Krinsky, Altschuler to take showrunner-exec producer duties

Fox animated skein “King of the Hill” has crowned its new royal family: Vet scribes Dave Krinsky and John Altschuler are close to sealing a new 2½-year, low- to mid-seven figure deal with 20th Century Fox TV to run the show and develop projects.

Krinsky and Altschuler, who have been with the hit laffer since the show’s second season, will take over showrunner-exec producer duties beginning with “King’s” eighth season. Due to the long lag time it takes to produce animated series, work will begin this November on “King’s” eighth season, although it doesn’t bow until fall 2003.

The duo had already been serving as de facto showrunners on “King,” alongside creator Greg Daniels, for much of the show’s seventh season, which bows Nov. 3.

“King of the Hill” will play a key role in Fox’s Sunday night strategy this season. With the departure of “The X-Files,” Fox opted to return “King” to its old 8:30 p.m. time period and serve as a strong lead-in for “Malcolm in the Middle,” which takes on the competitive 9 p.m. slot this fall.

“King of the Hill” co-creator/exec producer Greg Daniels said he and fellow creator Mike Judge were “thrilled” that Altschuler and Krinsky opted to stick with the series.

“They’re just great writers, and the staff loves working with them,” Daniels told Daily Variety. “They’ve been here almost from the beginning, and they totally get the voice of the show. We’re very excited.”

Development deals such as Krinsky and Altschuler’s pending pact have become increasingly rare as studios opt to develop individual projects with creators. The fact that 20th is closing in on a deal with the duo indicates the studio’s confidence in their ability to run “King” and create projects.

Krinsky and Altschuler, who were classmates at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, had mulled over other options before ultimately deciding to stay with “King.”

“We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think there was a lot of life left in the show,” Krinsky said. “The staff is really talented. And we’ll be getting a lot of attention this year (because of the timeslot change). It seems like it would be a horrible time to walk away.”

The partners said they were also looking forward to coming up with new concepts for future projects, which would most likely be live-action.

“Fox made it clear they want to be the home for us,” Altschuler said. “For five years we’ve been keeping our mouth shut, so we’re excited to start pushing these ideas.”

Twentieth and Fox Broadcasting have not yet formally reached an agreement on extending “King” for an eighth season or beyond, though such a deal is expected. If the skein doesn’t come back for some reason, the two writers will focus on development.

Altschuler said their time on “King of the Hill” also made them “much better writers than we were five years ago.”

“I don’t think there’s a better training ground for writers than ‘King of the Hill,'” he said. “When you’re out there and you’re looking at other shows, you start realizing that ‘King of the Hill’ is a precious resource and you just want to take care of it.”

As writers, the duo’s “King” episodes include “Death and Taxes,” which featured Hill matriarch Peggy accidentally smuggling cocaine to a death row inmate; and the seg where Bobby Hill contracts gout.

Deal was brokered by Robert Gumer of the Kaplan-Stahler-Gumer Agency and attorney Jared Levine.

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