Fox strikes talent deals

Studio 'multitasking' while inking overall pacts

Continuing its pledge to move toward more year-round development, Fox has sealed talent deals with thesps Chris McDonald and Eric Christian Olsen.

The yearlong overall pacts start immediately and aren’t necessarily timed to a traditional TV season — per the new mandate at Fox.

“That’s the new Fox development year — it starts for these actors the day the deals get closed,” Fox casting exec VP Marcia Schulman said. “We’re in development, and we’re in production and everything you can possibly be in all the time. There’s true multitasking in this company.”

Schulman said she’s been looking for an actor to excel in the role of a quirky father character, and McDonald — who recently starred in the short-lived Fox laffer “Cracking Up” — fits the bill.

“What’s worked well for this network, from Al Bundy to Homer Simpson, is that big Fox dad,” she said. “Chris is a wonderful actor and can play that bigger-than-life, hysterically funny guy. This is somebody we’ve been looking at for a while.”

As for Olsen, the thesp is best known for his comic turns in films such as “Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” and series like Fox’s short-lived “Get Real.” But Schulman said she was particularly impressed after the actor pulled off a dramatic guest stint last season on “24.”

“He’s a funny guy, but really what made me excited was his small, scene-stealing turn in ’24,’ ” Schulman said. “That showed the range of his talent. He was someone we targeted.”

McDonald and Olsen join thesp Dominic Pursell, who also signed a deal at the net. Schulman said she plans to make only about 10 talent deals this year, much like last season.

“We don’t do that many deals,” she said. “I really like actors to work, and I like to make sure when I make a deal that we’ll be able to put them to work.”

Olsen’s other credits include “The Hot Chick,” “Not Another Teen Movie” and “Pearl Harbor.”

McDonald starred in the recent TNT telepic “Word of Honor”; his TV credits include “Family Law.” The actor’s lengthy feature resume includes “Thelma & Louise,” “The Perfect Storm” and “Requiem for a Dream.”

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