“Will & Grace” funnyman Eric McCormack is getting serious about TV production, setting up his Big Cattle Prods. at NBC Universal Television Studio.
NUTS has inked a multiyear production/first-look pact with McCormack, who’s recruited former UPN programming chief Michael Forman to head up Big Cattle. Shingle will be based in offices near the CBS Radford lot, where “Will & Grace” tapes.
McCormack follows in the footsteps of “Will & Grace” colleague Sean Hayes, who also has a deal with NUTS. Peacock has a production pact with former “Friends” star David Schwimmer as well.
NUTS co-prexy Angela Bromstad said the pacts with thesps are not simply vanity deals. Hayes, with Shapiro/Grodner, is already in production on Bravo’s “Situation: Comedy,” while Schwimmer directed two pilots for NBC last spring.
“We look for projects wherever we can,” she said. “When you’ve got creative people working for you, they shouldn’t be pigeonholed (in one arena) just because they’re actors. They know what works.”
Exec also called McCormack “multitalented,” noting his work as a feature scribe and singer. McCormack said he and Forman aren’t interested in turning Big Cattle into a production factory but instead want to focus on “smart” shows — skeins he and Forman “would want to watch ourselves.”
“I’ve spent so many years auditioning, and in those situations, you don’t always get to think about your own tastes,” McCormack told Daily Variety. “Now that I have this opportunity, I want to use these powers for good. We want to show NBC what we can create for them.”
Forman said he and McCormack look to Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone Prods. as a model.
“It’s low volume, high quality,” he said. “If it smells like something that could come from a larger studio, it’s probably not something we’d want to do.”
McCormack and Forman first met when the latter exec worked at NBC during the early years of “Will & Grace.” They were reunited through McCormack’s agent, who thought Forman would make a good production partner.
As for the Big Cattle Prods. banner, McCormack said there’s no grand story behind the name.
Prodded into confession
“I wish I could say it had something to do with my love of the land,” he said. “It’s just that when you write ‘Big Cattle Productions’ it’s shortened to ‘Big Cattle Prods.’ I wanted to see how that looked (in) Variety.”
Emmy-winning McCormack recently wrapped production on the feature “Sisters,” which also stars Maria Bello and Mary Stuart Masterson. He also wrote and directed the short film “Pirates” and is working on the script for “What You Wish For,” which he’s developing with wife Janet Holden.
Forman, most recently head of programming for Vin Di Bona Prods., said he’s looking forward to getting back into the comedy and drama biz. “As much as I enjoy some reality shows, my heart is in scripted programming,” he said.
Before Di Bona, Forman spent five years at UPN, serving as senior VP of programming. He helped the net expand from three nights to five and worked on skeins such as “Moesha” and “The Parkers.”
Forman was VP of primetime series for NBC Studios from 1995-97, working to develop “Will & Grace” and “Providence.” He started his career with stints at Reeves Entertainment (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) and Brillstein-Grey.