Jerry Bruckheimer Television Goes Independent, Ending 15-Year Run With Warner Bros. TV (EXCLUSIVE)

Jerry Bruckheimer
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Jerry Bruckheimer Television is looking to become an independently financed operation, a change that will mark the end of its exclusive pact with Warner Bros. Television after a 15-year run.

Bruckheimer’s television division is shopping for investors and financing that would allow the company to retain a much greater ownership interest and rights to its shows. Producer Mark Gordon cut a deal last year with Entertainment One that was seen as the beginning of a new era for prolific TV producers.

“We’ve always been entrepreneurial,” Bruckheimer told Variety. “We’ve always loved trying new things. Warner Bros. is fantastic, they’ve been great partners. We’re not out of business with them, we’re just no longer exclusive with them.”

Bruckheimer declined to elaborate on the specifics of the financing that the company is seeking. The shift with Warner Bros. TV took effect about a week ago. “It’s all in a flux right now – we’re trying to figure that out,” he said.

Internally, Bruckheimer TV’s discussions about going out on its own began last November as expiration of its most recent overall deal with Warner Bros. TV approached. The company is said to have retained ACF Investment Bank to help shop for strategic partners.

Bruckheimer told Warner Bros. of the decision to go solo earlier this year. The studio put an offer on the table but Bruckheimer and TV chief Jonathan Littman were resolved to see what the market will bear for the company. The Bruckheimer TV staff, which includes exec VP KristieAnne Reed, will remain intact while the company sorts out its future.

Bruckheimer emphasized that he intends to remain in business with Warner Bros., particularly as the sides put a half-dozen development projects in the pipeline prior to the expiration of the previous overall deal. Bruckheimer noted that he’s also working for the studio on the film side.

“Hopefully we will continue our relationship with (WB CEO) Kevin Tsujihara and (TV Group chief) Peter Roth – everybody there has been terrific – and we will continue to honor all of what we have done together,” he said.

The spike in demand and the expansion in the number of outlets worldwide for series programming has made the prospect of established producers assembling significant independent financing for production much more viable.

The growing volume of high-end series originating in the U.K. and Europe has further expanded the possibilities for financing for producers with the clout to draw big-name talent. Bruckheimer’s brand of high-intensity procedural series have traditionally traveled well overseas – a quality that will certainly help his efforts to draw investors.

“Now it’s the time to think about what the next chapter is for us,” Bruckheimer said. “There’s a lot of great opportunity — an enormous amount of buyers out there who need quality content. We know how to produce quality content.”

The active roster at Bruckheimer TV consists of Fox drama “Lucifer,” which was renewed for a second season last month, and the upcoming CBS drama “Training Day.” Bruckheimer TV is also behind the long-running CBS reality series “The Amazing Race,” which predated its WBTV deal.

The company in the 2005-06 season set a primetime record with 10 series spread across the four broadcast networks. The volume for Bruckheimer TV has been lighter in the past few years. The last remaining active series in its signature “CSI” franchise, “CSI: Cyber,” was canceled by CBS last month after two seasons.

Bruckheimer TV first inked with Warner Bros. TV in May 2001, on the heels of “CSI” exploding into a massive hit for CBS. (The “CSI” shows never fell under the Warner Bros. TV umbrella as the franchise was developed prior to the 2001 pact.)

Bruckheimer TV hits delivered during its time with WBTV include CBS’ “Without a Trace” and “Cold Case.” Although the company is known for its distinctive brand of dramas it has ventured into comedy programming from time to time.

In 2014, Bruckheimer made a big shift on the film side in ending the company’s first-look deal with Disney after a 20-year association with the studio. At present Bruckheimer has a film deal with Paramount Pictures that runs through April 2017.