Tina Fey is sticking with NBCUniversal.
The “30 Rock” executive producer/star has signed a four-year overall deal with Universal Television that will keep her at the conglom hatching new TV shows in which she may choose to act.
The deal keeps Fey at the company where she’s been in various capacities since 1997, when she first broke through as both a writer and performer at “Saturday Night Live.”
“She’s been a cornerstone of the network for over the past 10 years and there was just no way we were going to let her get away,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. “It’s a measure of our esteem for her as a writer, actress and producer — she’s in a class by herself.”
The push to keep Fey in the family is a sign of NBC’s renewed commitment to courting top creative talent for the network and its newly expanded Universal TV studio operation. Greenblatt has made a point of holding on to Peacock’s best and brightest in recent months by inking long-term pacts with showrunners including Greg Daniels, Jason Katims, Michael Schur and Dick Wolf. He’s looked to infuse new blood into the Peacock fold through deals with such disparate talents as Gary Sanchez Prods., Jon Favreau, Liz Brixius and Phillip Noyce, and he raised the bar for development commitments with a 22-episode order for Michael J. Fox’s new Sony TV laffer.
As part of her deal, Fey is likely to launch her own shingle, which will give her the ability to develop shows with other writers in addition or instead of her own creations. (The deal does not include a film component.) She left the head writer position at “SNL” in 2006 to develop the Peacock’s Emmy-winning Thursday mainstay “30 Rock.”
Pact goes into effect mid-2013, after she’s finished work on the final season of “30 Rock,” which will conclude in January. Fey, repped by WME and 3 Arts, isn’t expected to develop programming for the 2013-14 season.
While Greenblatt would love nothing more than having the next Fey project on NBC, he held out the possibility that Universal TV could license a series of her creation to a rival network. That’s not an unprecedented arrangement considering Universal is producing “The Mindy Project” for Fox’s fall sked, and it has three more pilots in the works at Fox (two from Katims, one from Schur).
“We would love to have her all over NBC in front of and behind the camera, but if she’s got something great that’s ripe for another network, that’s something we’ll embrace,” he said.
Fey in the past has had an overall deal with NBC’s studio arm in tandem with “30 Rock” producer Broadway Video, but the new deal does not include the Lorne Michaels shingle. However, Greenblatt said it could be a natural move for Fey to collaborate with Broadway given her ties there.
NBC’s push to beef up its roster of creative talent comes as net toppers have reason to be optimistic about gaining ground in the 2012-13 season.
Greenblatt is happy with his decision to get an early start to the campaign, between the traction “The Voice” has found on its first fall outing (besting “X Factor” in the sing-off so far) and the solid series launches during the past few weeks for “Revolution,” “Go On” and “The New Normal.”
Monday 10 p.m. drama “Revolution” delivered the biggest number opening-night number for a drama on any network in three years, and Tuesday 9 p.m. laffer “Go On” marked NBC’s best comedy bow in two years. To NBC, those numbers are a sign that the network’s strategy of heavy promo during the Olympics and generous online sneak previews have encouraged more viewers to sample the Peacock’s new menu.
But Greenblatt is also bracing for next few weeks given that competition will intensify as the other broadcasters begin to deploy their new series in droves. The big focus for NBC in the near term is gaining traction on Monday and Tuesday, nights where the network had no cornerstone shows until “The Voice” popped last year.
“So far, so good,” Greenblatt told Variety. “As long as ‘The Voice’ holds for us, it really is the foundation of the momentum we’ll get out of Monday and Tuesday, and hopefully through the rest of the week.”
(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.)