TV topper imagines exit

Krantz could leave as soon as next week

Tony Krantz and Imagine Television soon could be going their separate ways.

Krantz, who has served as co-partner and CEO of the TV arm since 1997, is negotiating his exit from the company with Imagine partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. While the talks are said to be enormously complicated — in part because Krantz still has more than a year left on his deal — he could leave as soon as next week.

A key player in the negotiations is 20th Century Fox Television, where Imagine Television has been based since May 2000. Grazer and Howard likely would not want to allow any changes in Imagine’s top management without 20th being on-board.

However, industry insiders said the studio is not likely to object to Krantz leaving. Indeed, 20th and Imagine already have discussed how the exec structure of Imagine TV might change should Krantz depart.

According to industry insiders familiar with the situation, Krantz is looking to exit Imagine because of philosophical differences he has with both Fox and Imagine’s Grazer and Howard, and vice versa. As a result, all parties seem interested in moving on — assuming the right exit deal can be brokered.

Should Krantz secure a release from his deal, it’s expected he would set up shop as an indie producer elsewhere rather than return to his roots as an agent. Warner Bros. Television, which made a play to land Krantz before Krantz and Imagine signed with 20th, would be the most likely home for Krantz.

Indeed, reps for WBTV may have already told Krantz through intermediaries that they’d be interested in making a deal with Krantz should the exec come on the market.

All sides involved are keeping quiet about the reasons why Imagine and Krantz could be headed for divorce. Warner Bros. TV also declined comment on whether it might be interested in doing a deal with Krantz.

During Krantz’s run atop Imagine Television, the studio has produced a number of critically acclaimed skeins, including “24,” “Felicity,” “SportsNight” and “The PJs.” A few years ago, Time magazine wrote a glowing profile of Imagine TV heralding it as the industry’s next big thing.

But while “Felicity” lasted long enough to land an off-net window on WE: Women’s Entertainment, Imagine has yet to produce the sort of money-printing network hit that studios crave.

Imagine Television was born in 1997 as an offshoot of Grazer and Howard’s successful feature unit. It was originally based at Disney’s Touchstone Television before moving to 20th two years ago.

Before helping launch Imagine, Krantz spent 15 years as a top agent at CAA, where his clients included John Wells (“ER.”)