EXCLUSIVE (UPDATED): 20th Century Fox Television is making a dramatic change, tapping Adelstein Prods. president Michael Thorn as new head of drama development, replacing Patrick Moran. Thorn starts at the beginning of June. Moran’s surprising departure was described as a mutual decision. He said that having spent seven years at the studio and facing a new two-year option on his contract, “I decided I wanted to do something that is more producer-driven and more hands-on in a more managed volume environment. If you don’t openly want to run a studio or network one day– and I don’t — you have to be ready to take the plunge and do something else.” Moran said he has been talking to production companies about joining and to individual producers about partnering for the past several months. At the same time, 20th TV had been mulling an executive change and ultimately opted not to pick up Moran’s option. Moran joined 20th TV in 2003. He was upped to SVP in August 2007 and took over the drama department in January 2008, following the promotion of EVP Jennifer Nicholson Salke. He oversaw the development of the studio’s breakout freshman hit Glee as well as other 20th hourlong series such as Bones, Lie to Me and Prison Break. This development season, he shepherded several buzzed-about pilots, including Fox’s Midland, Breakout Kings and Ridealong and CBS’ Chaos and has agreed to stay on and consult on the projects he developed that go to series.
As president of Marty Adelstein’s production company, which has been based at 20th TV, Thorn executive produced several projects for the studio, including the pilot Supreme Courtships and already had close relationship with chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman and Nicholson Salke when they approached him about the top drama job. “I am grateful for the opportunity to be at a studio that has history of creating and producing some of the most creatively adventurous dramas on television with Glee now and previously with Prison Break and 24 and to hopefully grow that legacy,” Thorn said. As for Adelstein, “he has been a great mentor and friend and I look forward to working with him in a different capacity.” Thorn joined Adelstein Prods., now called Lost Marbles TV, at its inception in 2006, following a stint as vp drama development at NBC where he led the network’s drama team overseeing development by its sister studio and shepherded the development of Heroes and Friday Night Lights among others. Before that, he was at NBC Studios and was part of the development team at USA that put together the the first of network’s recent batch of scripted series, including Monk and The Dead Zone. Along with Adelstein, Thorn serves as an executive producer on MTV’s pilot Teen Wolf, which is nearing a series pickup and has been hiring writers for the past week.