EXCLUSIVE: Regency Television, the boutique TV production company that produced Roswell, Malcolm In the Middle and Bernie Mac, is poised for a comeback. I hear former ABC Studios executive-turned-producer Morgan Wandell has emerged as the frontrunner to run the resurrected production company. The original Regency TV launched in 1998 as a 50-50 joint venture between Regency Enterprises and Fox TV Studios and existed for 10 years until the partners shut it down in July 2008.
Hutch Parker and Bob Harper, toppers of Regency Enterprises’ film division New Regency, hinted about the company’s plans to explore a return to television at the January announcement of the renewal of New Regency’s distribution deal with Fox. “We can see an opportunity for a restructured approach,” Parker said back then. Indeed, I hear that Regency TV 2.0 would operate under a new business model. For starters, the new incarnation of the company won’t be a co-venture with Fox TV Studios but a Regency-owned independent TV production company. But more importantly, unlike the original company, which deficit financed its series, I hear the new Regency TV won’t. I hear the company would emulate DreamWorks TV’s model instead, in which the production company develops projects independently but doesn’t deficit them, instead taking in producing fees. Despite Regency’s close ties with Fox (News Corp. also owns 20% of New Regency), I hear Regency TV won’t be affiliated with News Corp’s TV divisions 20th Century Fox TV or Fox TV Studios, through it is possibly for 20th TV to have some distribution responsibilities.
Parker was instrumental in the 2008 decision to close Regency TV, which happened just two months after he joined New Regency after he reportedly examined the company’s business model and determined that it no longer worked in the changing landscape and tougher economics of the TV business. Now Parker has been the driving force in the resurrection, leading the search for an executive to run the company. After meetings with a number of executives and producers over the past couple of months, I hear Wandell has emerged as the top choice for the job. He most recently served as an executive producer on the ABC drama series No Ordinary Family. Before that, he ran Greg Berlanti’s then-ABC Studios-based production company for two years. Wandell previously worked at ABC Studios, rising to SVP drama.