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Fox locks in Erwich

Liguori inherited exec after replacing Berman

Craig Erwich — Fox’s No. 2 entertainment exec — is staying put.

Despite much frenzied speculation to the contrary over the last few months, Erwich has sealed  a deal that keeps him in place for several more years.  It’s the first new pact for Erwich since Fox Entertainment prexy Peter Liguori  took over last year.

Liguori inherited Erwich as his chief lieutenant after replacing longtime Fox Entertainment topper Gail Berman a year ago this week. By sticking with the current partnership, Liguori and Erwich have opted to forge a legit relationship out of something that began as an arranged marriage.

“I came in with an agnostic view” about the exec team, Liguori said. Now that Liguori and Erwich have had time to measure each other up, Liguori said he’s ready to “go into battle” with Erwich.

“Craig is incredibly good with material, and I also feel that in a strange way he’s like a very good actor who can make adjustments on the fly and with great insights,” Liguori said.

Working with Erwich is both “an enjoyable and challenging process,” he added. “A creative venture should always foster debate, and Craig is one of those guys who will challenge the status quo. We raise each other’s game, and that’s ultimately what you want in a partner.”

With Fox riding a wave of success — including hits he developed like “24” and “House” — Erwich called the net “an amazing place to stay.”

Erwich oversees all of the web’s drama and comedy development, as well as current programming. He’s held the job since June 2003. With the new multiple-year pact in place, Erwich said he now has the leg room to attack new projects.

“In terms of my goals, signing up and knowing I’m going to be here for a while allows you to make long-term plans,” he said. “Look at any of the success we’ve had, such as our launch strategy this year, and it’s come from long-term planning.”

Besides “24” and “House,” Erwich has had a hand in developing “Prison Break” and “The OC.”

Exec joined the net  in 1995 as a current programming director, handling shows such as “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose Place.” He moved to the development side in 2000.

Before taking over the exec VP job, Erwich headed drama development at the net.

Erwich worked at Stephen J. Cannell Prods. before joining Fox. While there, he helped develop “Profit.”