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Icon unveils TV division

Move prompted by successful track record

Having entered TV in a big way this fall, Icon Prods. principals Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey are making it official.

The partners have launched a new TV division — Con Artists Prods. — along with Icon’s Nancy Cotton. Cotton, who had already been overseeing Icon’s TV development and production, has been named president.

Decision to launch a new unit comes as Icon looks to match last year’s stunning development track record. Icon managed to get a series order for all three of its pilots: ABC laffer “Complete Savages,” UPN drama “Kevin Hill” and CBS entry “Clubhouse.”

“It came about because we suddenly got very busy,” Cotton said. “There were so many projects, and Bruce started to feel like it would be great for TV to have its own separate division, to give TV its own little place.”

“Clubhouse,” which Icon produced with Spelling, is no longer on the air, but “Complete Savages” and “Kevin Hill” (both of which Icon produces for Touchstone TV) recently received full-season orders. “Kevin Hill,” in particular, scored UPN some of its highest-ever critical acclaim.

“With the outstanding success achieved by Nancy last season, it seems a natural progression for us to formally enter into a business arrangement with (her),” Davey said.

Icon has several TV projects in development, including a comedy at HBO and a period drama at UPN about two 1970s women who aspire to dance professionally.

Beyond series, Icon has also produced several longforms in recent years, including ABC’s “Three Stooges” and TNT’s “Evel Knievel” and “Invincible.” Next up, Lifetime has greenlit Icon telepic “The Dive From Clausen’s Pier,” an adaptation of the highly praised novel.

Cotton said she’ll likely bring in additional execs to help staff Con Artists once pilot season gets into full gear. She’s realistic, though, knowing that it will be tough to match last year’s track record.

“We won the lottery,” she said. “But we’re never going to be in the volume business. We’re going with what makes us passionate, finding something new and different.”

Cotton most recently served as senior VP of Icon. Before that, she was senior VP at Mandalay TV, where she developed and produced skeins such as “Cupid,” “Young Americans” and “Rude Awakening.”

She joined Mandalay in 1998 after having spent four years at ABC, working as a director of current programs. Her other credits include stints at Roseanne and Tom Arnold’s Wapello County Prods., the William Morris Agency and Lewis Chesler Prods.

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