Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films is making a major move in television, signing an overall deal with ABC Studios and bringing in veteran film and TV executive Debbie Liebling to run the company’s TV division, Red Hour Television. Under the pact, which will run through May 31, 2013, with an option for another year, Red Hour TV will develop and produce comedy and drama projects for ABC Studios. At the studio, Red Hour joins such pods as Mark Gordon Prods, Shondaland and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld’s Red Hour has ventured in TV before, co-producing several comedy pilots — including an untitled half-hour starring Stiller’s wife, actress Christine Taylor, at CBS; The Station at Fox; and, most recently, Justin Theroux’s Documental at HBO. But now the company is launching a dedicated TV division with Liebling at the helm. “Debbie is an incredibly talented executive,” said Stiller, who started in television as an actor on Saturday Night Live and The Ben Stiller Show. “I am hoping she helps us get a show on the air that is culturally relevant, groundbreaking, and doesn’t get canceled after 12 episodes. If she does that, I will consider the deal a major success.”
Liebling has experience in developing long-running series — she was Chief Development and Production Executive for Comedy Central for seven years, where she developed South Park. Other series she shepherded there include The Man Show, Win Ben Stein’s Money, Battlebots and Primetime Glick. Liebling most recently served as President of Production at Universal Pictures until May, when she exited as part of a department restructuring. At Universal, she oversaw the development and production of Bridesmaids, The Change-Up and Tower Heist, among others. She was previously President of Fox Atomic Pictures and spent five years as EVP Production for 20th Century Fox Films, where she was responsible for such films as Borat and the Stiller-starring Dodgeball, which he also produced. “I have known and worked with Ben over the years and always been in awe of his work ethic and standards and great taste,” Liebling said. “It is an honor to be his partner in this next venture for Red Hour and I’m thrilled to be joining Red Hour and to take the great brand that Ben and Stuart have already established to television.”
On the feature side, Red Hour Films has a deal with 20th Century Fox and recently announced a slate that includes the Helen Childress-written The Mountain, which Stiller is developing to direct and produce with Cornfeld. Additionally, the Reality Bites duo of Stiller and Childress are also in the process of adapting the children’s book The Snowy Day. Stiller is currently in production on Fox’s Neighborhood Watch opposite Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill and in pre-production on Fox’s The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, which he’s attached to star in the title role. Red Hour also has a digital division that produced the 26-episode series Stiller & Meara starring Stiller’s parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, and is developing a Zoolander animated webseries.