EXCLUSIVE: Despite crossing over to features in a big way recently, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol co-writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec are also staying in touch with their TV roots through a pod deal at 20th Century Fox TV’s cable and reality division Fox21. Under the one-year pact, the two will write, supervise and produce projects targeted for cable. Fox21 president Bert Salke, who took the reins of the division exactly a year ago, said that the deal is indicative of his talent strategy. “We’re going to change the types of people we work with and the types of deals we make,” he said. That would often mean writers like Appelbaum and Nemec “that any network would want.” As for Fox21’s deals themselves, while they understandably pay less than network pacts, they are also far less restrictive than the exclusive broadcast deals. “I think that will be the future,” Salke said. For instance, Appelbaum and Nemec’s deal is exclusive in cable, but the two are free to shop broadcast projects on their own. And cable’s year-round development model allows writers who are busy in features like Appelbaum and Nemec the flexibility to pitch whenever they have time. Additionally, “the lines between broadcast and cable are really blurred now,” Salke said, pointing to 20th TV-based producer Ryan Murphy who has both a broadcast series, Fox’s Glee, and a cable one, FX’s upcoming American Horror Story. At Fox21, which produces FX’s Sons of Anarchy, A&E’s Breakout Kings and Showtime’s upcoming Homeland, Salke said he is in a roster-building mode, signing “tons of writer deals.”
Salke had been trying to work with Appelbaum and Nemec for almost a decade. They came close to collaborating during their tenures at ABC Studios, where Applebaum and Nemec’s offices were across from those of then-producer Salke and his producing partner Chris Brancato. Appelbaum and Nemec cut their teeth on Alias and went on to co-create three series for ABC/ABC Studios: October Road, an U.S. version of U.K. drama Life on Mars and Happy Town. This past development season, they wrote a drama project for NBC, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros. TV, which had Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson attached to star. On the feature side, the WME-repped duo was recently tapped to rewrite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Paramount. They also recently rewrote Now You See Me for Summit Entertainment.