Jason Winer, who directed the pilots for such 20th Century Fox TV comedy series as Modern Family, Don’t Trust The B—- and the upcoming 1600 Penn, is extending and expanding his relationship with the studio. Winer has signed a new three-year deal with 20th TV. Under the pact, he will continue to serve as executive producer and producing director of NBC’s 1600 Penn, which was just slotted for a January 10 launch on Thursday night. He also will continue to develop new projects for the studio, now through his own production company, Small Dog Picture Co., which he is launching under the new deal. “We made this deal with with the intention of building a production company for him here at 20th TV to take all those great relationships he has established with writers, actors and other directors and catapult him to next level,” said 20th TV chairman Dana Walden.
Winer has been at the studio since 2005 when 20th TV brass spotted his short with Hayes MacArthur The Adventures Of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend and invited the duo to adapt it as a TV series. Winer’s followup effort for 20th TV also was unconventional — he took a $150,000 fee he got from the studio to write a script and used it to fund a full-length presentation. The project, the semi-scripted Giants Of Radio, drew the attention of the broadcast networks and was picked up by CBS to compete alongside its multi-million-dollar pilots.
Winer went on to direct the pilot and the first season of 20th TV’s blockbuster comedy series Modern Family. Like with Modern Family, Winer now directs every other episode of 1600 Penn, which he also helped develop. This is a rare commitment for a pilot director who normally helms the pilot and sometimes Episode 2 but is largely gone after that. “The fact that he commits to a project and is willing to stay with a show and establish a template speaks volumes to the type of guy he is,” Walden said.
Winer, repped by ICM Partners, Mosaic and Todd Rubenstein, said he hopes to turn up the volume by launching a company “from developing 1-2 special projects a year to having a slate of a handful of projects with the help of an executive.” Winer is now in final stages of bringing in an executive to work with him. As a director, he believes staying with a comedy beyond the pilot is important, especially on the single-camera side, “to help not just set the tone but also design the way a show is shot and executed week after week.”
This development cycle, Winer has a single-camera comedy with writer-producers Tami Sagher and Kourtney Kang, which landed at CBS with a pilot production commitment.