“Alias” mastermind J.J. Abrams has signed a multiyear, high-seven-figure deal to keep his production company at Touchstone TV — and bring ABC drama topper Thom Sherman along with him.
Sherman officially ankled his post Wednesday as the Alphabet web’s senior VP of drama to take on the president gig at Abrams’ Bad Robot Television. Bad Robot also named Bryan Burk, who’s developed with Abrams for several years, the shingle’s exec vice prexy.
Sherman said he was approached just last week by ABC Entertainment TV Group chair Lloyd Braun about possibly making the move to Abrams’ company.
“It was literally a no-brainer,” Sherman said. “I’m well aware there are people out there in the business who have jobs like this, and it’s what I’ve been really wanting to transition to. But I never knew how or where it would happen, and this literally fell into my lap. You couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Sherman had just signed a new two-year deal with the Alphabet net in July; he’d been with ABC since 1996 and had run the drama department for the last three years. Exec helped develop critically acclaimed skeins such as “Alias,” “Karen Sisco” and “Line of Fire.”
“Thom knows how to do everything I don’t, which is almost everything,” Abrams said. “On top of which, he’s a thoughtful, funny guy. Bryan Burk is a tireless producer with exceptional taste, whose talents will be a critical part of the future of Bad Robot. [Touchstone TV prexy Steve McPherson] is one of the most honest and insightful people with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to do business.
“I feel tremendously lucky that, for some reason, these people have agreed to work with me,” he said.
Abrams had been working without a deal since last summer, when his previous four-year, $16 million pact with Touchstone expired. Insiders said the new pact was an entirely new arrangement, not an extension of that previous deal.
WMA-repped Abrams’ presence at Touchstone has paid off handsomely for the Disney-owned studio, having resulted in the Alphabet web’s signature “Alias” franchise. Abrams also has the pilot “Lost” set up at ABC for fall consideration and the bounty hunter-themed entry “The Catch” in the works for midseason 2004-05.
“J.J. is without a question one of the most amazing talents working in television today,” McPherson said. “I have been so fortunate to be associated with his many successes and look forward to riding his coattails in the future.”
The scribe first hit it big on the small screen by co-creating the hit WB drama “Felicity” with Matt Reeves. Before that, he had already established himself as a bigtime feature writer, having co-written the blockbuster “Armageddon.” Abrams is currently on board to write the long-awaited “Superman” feature revival.
Back at ABC, drama execs Julie McNamara and Heather Kadin will handle the rest of drama pilot season.
“(Thom’s) departure will be a personal as well as a professional loss,” said ABC Entertainment prexy Susan Lyne. “But this is an incredible opportunity for him, and he leaves us with terrific drama development for next fall.”
Sherman said he hoped to emulate other writer/producer-driven success stories like John Wells Prods.
Braun said: “We’re making this deal with J.J. and we should have someone with him who can manage his assets and create a business for him. It helps ABC, it helps Touchstone and it helps J.J.”