EXCLUSIVE: Jason Katims, the Emmy-winning writer-executive producer behind Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, has extended his relationship with the studio behind both series, Universal Television, in a new overall deal. Under the two-year pact, Katims will continue as executive producer on NBC’s Parenthood, in addition to developing new projects through his banner which he plans to build up into a full-fledged production company. As a key initial step, Katims has hired his first executive. Michelle Lee, VP at Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci K/O Paper Products, will join Katims’ company as head of development. “Jason Katims’ gift of writing deep, rich, complicated characters and relationships is a rare quality,” Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We are excited to develop new shows with him this year and to continue to go on a journey with his characters on the new season of Parenthood.”
Katims said his great experience collaborating with other writers over the years, most recently with FNL‘s David Hudgins this past season, was key in his decision to take the next step and launch a production company. In the company’s first cycle, Katims plans to develop something for himself to write as well as supervise a couple of projects from other writers. “Michelle and will focus on quality as opposed to quantity and will start with a small slate of projects that we are passionate about, and hopefully we will expand from there,” Katims said, noting that by the time he finished his first meeting with Lee he knew she was the person for the job. “She has a great handle of the kind of shows that I would get excited about doing, and she has great relationships.” In building his production company, Katims wants to apply the model he’s used on FNL and Parenthood. “I’m very proud of these shows, and not only am I am proud of them creatively but of the environment we’ve set up as a place where people love to come to work, and that’s the type of creative atmosphere I’d like to try to create at the company.”
CAA-repped Katims, who won an Emmy for writing the series finale of FNL, most recently created and executive produced NBC’s one-hour medical drama pilot County. His other credits include The Vow, Boston Public, and Roswell. Before her stint at K/O, Lee worked in television development at The Mark Gordon Co.