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‘Ben and Kate,’ ‘1600 Penn’ land showrunners

Donovan, Goldman to Fox laffer; Mike Royce to White House

Two high-profile new comedies have landed showrunner reinforcements.

NBC’s White House comedy “1600 Penn” has set Mike Royce (“Men of a Certain Age”) as exec producer and showrunner. Fox’s “Ben and Kate” has wooed Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman, the pair who have just come off NBC’s “Community.”

Both laffers hail from 20th Century Fox TV.

A high number of new series were greenlit without showrunners this year, in part because studios and nets are putting a premium on finding new voices, particularly for comedies (Daily Variety, May 11).

But there’s no question that seasoned hands are needed to get a show on its feet once the time comes to deliver another 12 episodes, at minimum, on a tight sked. That has primed the marketplace for showrunners with strong track records. Indeed, 20th TV went out of its way to recruit Royce and Goldman and Donovan with overall deals earlier this year.

Royce most recently shepherded dramedy “Men of a Certain Age” through its much-praised two seasons on TNT, and he also served a long tenure on CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

“Penn” was written by former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett and shepherded through the pilot process by “Modern Family” helmer-exec producer Jason Winer.

Donovan and Goldman have spent the past three seasons on NBC’s cult-fave Thursday laffer, and before that they logged seven seasons on NBC/ABC’s “Scrubs.”

“Ben and Kate” was penned by feature scribe Dana Fox (“Knight and Day,” “Couples Retreat”) and helmed by Jake Kasdan.

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