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Avenue takes detour from HBO to Fox

Brokaw behind 'Wit,' 'Path to War,' 'Normal' for cabler

“Angels in America” producer Cary Brokaw and his Avenue Pictures are setting up shop at Fox TV Studios, inking an overall deal to develop series projects for the News Corp.-owned company.

Until recently, Brokaw’s TV business had been based at HBO, where he primarily focused on movies and miniseries. In addition to “Angels,” the HBO relationship yielded Emmy-nom magnets such as “Wit,” “Path to War” and “Normal.”

Deal with David Madden-led FTVS is for series projects only and signals Avenue’s intent to step up its development of potential skeins. Brokaw said the types of shows being broadcast and what thebasic cablers are now developing — from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “My Name Is Earl” — encouraged him to get more aggressive about series TV.

“If you look at what’s being broadcast now by different networks, the conventional boundaries have gone away,” he said. “It really is more of a meritocracy now, and good things are getting on the air.”

In the past year, Brokaw said Avenue had quietly developed about a half-dozen pilot scripts and felt the company developed “some really good traction and writer relationships.” Working with its reps at William Morris, the company decided to meet with studios about potential series deals.

FTVS made sense in part because its business model makes it easy to produce projects for both broadcast and cable nets, Brokaw said.

Brokaw and Madden also already had a relationship that dated back to Madden’s days as a producer. Indeed, Madden-produced HBO pic “Something the Lord Made” competed against “Angels” at the Emmys.

“This is me getting revenge,” Madden joked in an interview with Daily Variety. “If I couldn’t win, at least I could get Cary to make a deal with me.”

Madden said Brokaw’s sophisticated tastes made him a good fit for FTVS, which has been ramping up its development of network and cable skeins.

“This is a guy who’s going to attract genuinely first-rate writers and actors, and who has the relationships to put things together,” Madden said. “And given where television is going, with everybody receptive to material that’s more daring, it seemed like a smart thing to do.”

Brokaw said he has no immediate plans to hire an exec dedicated solely to TV. Instead, he’ll oversee development with Aaron Craig Geller, exec veepee and head of production for Avenue Pictures’ film and TV units.

Before the deal with FTVS was set up, Avenue and HBO pacted to develop a half-hour comedy based on the memoirs of New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl (Daily Variety, Dec. 13). That project remains in development.

Brokaw and Avenue remain based on the Sony lot for features. Producer’s bigscreen credits include “Closer,” “Short Cuts” and “Drugstore Cowboy,” as well as the upcoming adaptation of Whitney Strieber’s “The Grays.”