Former Fox comedy chief Kelly Kulchak is making a beeline to Thruline Entertainment, joining the management shingle as prexy of newly created production unit Tagline.
Kulchak — who helped develop skeins such as “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Grounded for Life” — will head up the television division of Tagline, which will look to create programming created by Thruline’s management clients as well as scribes and talent based elsewhere.
Shingle will also move into film production, though no firm decisions have been made about tapping a film topper.
By hiring Kulchak, Thruline founding partners Chris Henze, J.B. Roberts and Ron West hope to seize an opportunity to get into TV production while balancing their primary responsibilities as managers.
West said Tagline will eschew the pod path, opting against pursuing an overall or housekeeping deal in order to remain independent, thus maximizing Tagline’s ability to pitch to all studios and networks.
“It’s a risk we’re willing to take because it affords the artists and writers we’re working with the most flexibility,” West told Daily Variety, adding that a “studio deal can be a very restrictive platform from which to operate.”
Kulchak was most recently based at David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants, where she worked on “Ed” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” while developing projects for multiple broadcast and cable outlets.
“As a development executive, Kelly has demonstrated great instincts for what’s funny as well as what’s commercially viable,” West said, while Henze added that Kulchak’s “integrity, class and taste make her the ideal person to spearhead this effort.”Basic mission
West doesn’t anticipate Kulchak hiring any development execs beneath her. Instead, West and his two partners will work with her to develop comedy and drama projects.
A film division is a “question of when, not if,” West said, adding the Thruline partners acted on forming a TV unit first so as to not miss out on the 2005 pilot development season, which is just starting to rev up.
While servicing Thruline clients will be a “primary goal” for Tagline, it’s not the company’s only mission, West said.
“The priority is just to get good shows on the air,” he said.
Since forming Thruline nearly two years ago, West has served as co-exec producer on the NBC comedy pilot “Foster Hall,” while Henze exec produced a CBS comedy project with scribe Steve Franks (“Big Daddy”).
Prior to joining Worldwide Pants in 2001, Kulchak spent three years as VP of comedy at Fox, running the department during her 18 months at the net. In addition to “Malcolm” and “Grounded,” exec helped develop Fox laffers “Action” and “The Tick” before ankling the net in 2000.
Before Fox, Kulchak headed up current and series programming at the WB during the net’s guppy years. She began her career as a story editor based at Brillstein-Grey Television.
Thruline’s client list includes thesps Jessica Alba, Ron Livingston, Allison Janney, Blair Underwood and Peter MacNicol, along with scribes Christopher Moynihan, Tami Sagher and Kirk Ellis and helmer Bille Woodruff (“Beauty Shop”).