EXCLUSIVE: Feature producer Debra Martin Chase is making a major move in television with a two-year overall deal at ABC Studios. Under the pact, Chase will develop series projects through her company, Martin Chase Prods., with the help of a dedicated TV executive she is in the process of hiring.The deal brings Chase back to ABC where she started her TV career as executive producer on the hit 1997 musical film Cinderella starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. She kept her close ties to the Disney Co. with two hit franchises, The Princess Diaries on the feature side and The Cheetah Girls TV movies on Disney Channel. She also executive produced the successful Disney Channel movie Lemonade Mouth and the ABC Family musical Elixir.
Chase first tested the series waters with the Vivica A. Fox-starring drama 1-800-Missing, which ran on Lifetime for three seasons from 2003-06, and had been looking to return to primetime for a while. “The best drama now is on television with terrific writing and great acting,” she said. “What would be a medium-size feature that may not get made now can move to TV (as a series) with great success.” Chase has had ongoing conversations with executives at ABC, a network where she feels she belongs. “ABC’s brand of sexy, emotional and fun female-driven, character-driven dramas is what I do, so my brand and sensibility fits very well with theirs.” Chase, repped by CAA and attorneys Nina Shaw and Abel Lezcano, points to Shonda Rhimes’ ABC shows, particularly newbie Scandal, as well as the network’s soap Revenge, procedural Body Of Proof and the Ashley Judd actioneer Missing as type of series she likes.
Chase, whose feature credits also include The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants franchise, ran the companies of Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston before launching Martin Chase Prods. in 2000. She recently produced Sparkle, which opens on Friday. Like Cinderella 15 years ago, it features Houston, joined by a young pop/R&B star, Jordin Sparks.