EXCLUSIVE: Producers Lawrence Bender (Inglorious Basterds) and Kevin Brown (Roswell) have signed a development deal with Universal Cable Prods. for their Bender Brown banner. Under the pact, the duo will shepherd projects for cable as well as broadcast for UCP, which has evolved from a production arm of USA Network and SyFy to a studio that supplies all cable and broadcast nets. For the past few years Bender Brown had been independent after a stint at Warner Bros. TV where the company produced CBS drama Dr. Vegas among other projects. It has done pilots for TNT, the CW and Lifetime and enjoyed its independence but “having a single studio partner is very exciting,” Brown said. “We have done everything from fantastical drama to multi-camera comedy, so the idea that there is a one studio like UCP that does all kinds of programming and sells all over town was very appealing”.
Added Bender, “USA Network is now starting to get into comedy, and that’s a real priority for us”. Brown’s long-time relationship with UCP SVP Richard Rothstein played an important role in making the deal, which started with a call by Rothstein to Bender and Brown’s WME agent. Five years ago, as an executive at UCP corporate sibling Universal Media Studios Rothstein developed a project with Bender and Brown. The duo also have a strong relationship with UCP sibling Syfy where they produced the 2004 miniseries Earthsea. Bender and Brown will work with UCP’s development team – SVPs Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro – who oversee the studio’s development for USA, Syfy and external networks, respectively. “Lawrence and Kevin have the creative DNA – great ideas, a wide variety of genres and strong talent relationships – that goes perfectly with our diverse slate of projects and the type of production company we’re building at UCP”, Rothstein said.
The pact with Bender Brown comes on the heels of UCP signing a pod deal with the production company of singer-songwriter John Legend. The studio’s roster also includes pacts with Hypnotic (Covert Affairs, Suits), Tagline ( Psych), and another recent roster addition, Gale Anne Hurd’s company Valhalla Entertainment. In addition to their partnership in television through Bender Brown, Bender has a successful feature production company, best known for its collaborations with Quentin Tarantino on his movies, from Pulp Fiction to the upcoming Kill Bill Vol. 3.