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‘Grease Live’ Director Thomas Kail Sets Pod Deal at 20th Century Fox TV

Thomas Kail Fox Production Company
annie tritt for Variety

“Grease Live” and “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail is setting up shop at 20th Century Fox TV with a pod deal for his newly launched Old 320 Sycamore production banner.

The pact calls for Kail’s banner to develop TV projects for broadcast and cable. Kate Sullivan, an assistant director on “Grease Live,” has been tapped to serve as head of development for Old 320.

Kail is white-hot coming off the success of “Grease Live,” the musical that aired on Fox in January, and the Broadway sensation “Hamilton,” which earned him a Tony and a clutch of other legit kudos during the past year. And he earned an Emmy nom for his work on “Grease: Live.”

“Working with Tommy on ‘Grease: Live’ was an incredible experience, and we knew long before the credits rolled that night that we wanted a much more significant relationship with him,” said Gary Newman and Dana Walden, Fox Television Group chairmen-CEOs. “Anyone who has worked with Tommy knows just how remarkable and creative and visionary he is – he’s quite literally a force of nature. He has access to a largely untapped talent pool through his years in the New York theater, and he’s fantastically collaborative.”

“Grease: Live” marked Fox’s first foray into the live musical business that NBC revived three years ago starting with its “Sound of Music Live” production. Kail’s work on “Grease Live” with producer Marc Platt was hailed for its innovative touches and the inclusion of a live audience in key scenes staged in locations all over the Warner Bros. lot.

The focus of the pod deal with 20th TV is to find promising talent and projects for Kail to supervise.

“Working on ‘Grease: Live’ with the Fox team was one of the highlights of my career, I am proud of what we made – and how we made it,” Kail said. “I’ve always been drawn to helping find and platform new voices, surprising characters and stories that are relevant to our times. Hopefully, through this deal, we’ll be able to tell those stories in every possible form, from live events, to half-hour and hour scripted, and limited series.”

Kail previously worked with “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Broadway tuner “In the Heights.” At present he’s working on stagings for the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago productions of “Hamilton,” and he will direct a new play, “Tiny Beautiful Things,” adapted by and starring Nia Vardalos this fall.