Crystal clear deal

Comic inks 3-year, exclusive pact with HBO

HOLLYWOOD — HBO looks maaahvelous to Billy Crystal, who has signed a three-year, exclusive deal with the pay cabler to create, produce and direct series, movies and miniseries.

As part of the deal, ex-Fox drama exec Cheryl Bloch has joined Crystal’s Jennilind Prods. as senior VP of TV development. Jennilind — the moniker is a combination of Crystal’s daughters’ names — is the comedian’s TV shingle and remains separate from his Face Prods. label (“America’s Sweethearts,” “Forget Paris”).

Crystal has cultivated a tight relationship with HBO through the years, most recently directing and exec producing “61*” for HBO Films. The telepic landed 12 Emmy nominations, including one for Crystal as director, and won two.

The comedian has also headlined four specials on HBO, and created, wrote and produced the series “Sessions.” Together with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, he’s hosted eight “Comic Relief” benefits for the network.

Crystal’s ties with HBO chairman-CEO Chris Albrecht go back even further: Albrecht was once Crystal’s talent agent. These days, Crystal is repped by William Morris and MBST Entertainment.

“Billy has proven himself a winner in every aspect of the entertainment business,” Albrecht said. “To have him back at HBO is a very exciting prospect.”

Bloch climbs on board to shepherd HBO projects for Jennilind Prods.; she’ll produce those series and longforms as well.

Exec was previously VP of drama development at Fox, where she helped wrangle skeins such as “Boston Public” and “24.”

“She’s extremely smart and has a great sense of humor,” Crystal said. “I’m also thrilled to be working with HBO; it’s been my home for 24 years.”

Bloch’s credits also include a three-year stint as VP of current programming at Universal, as well as supervising producer on the quirky CBS drama “Northern Exposure.”

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