Universal Cable Productions has signed exclusive development deals with Steve Carell’s Carousel Television and Jessica Biel’s Iron Ocean Productions. Both companies already are developing projects with the studio. Carousel has a an untitled drama about the onset of Hollywood’s golden age, focusing on actual Hollywood events and characters dating back 100 years. Iron Ocean is working on two projects. Pop Culture — written by Melissa Hilfers and executive produced by Royal Pains‘ Michael Rauch, who is under an overall deal at UCP — centers on a bachelor living the high life in NYC who has a sudden change of heart after babysitting his nephew. He hires an aspiring actress to play his wife, and things get complicated when he finds himself falling for her. Moguls, penned by Geoff Moore & David Posmentier, is a half-hour workplace comedy about the eccentric twentysomethings employed at a family-owned Colorado ski resort whose way of life is challenged when the mountain is purchased by a corporate behemoth.
The pacts with Carousel and Iron Ocean fall into the expansion strategy signaled by Jeff Wachtel when he took full charge of UCP last year as President and Chief Content Officer of NBCU Cable Entertainment Group. They also are the first pod deals for the studio since the arrival of Dawn Parouse Olmstead as EVP Development. UCP rarely had done pod deals in the past. In fact, the pacts with Carousel and Iron Ocean double the number of its pod deals, joining Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment and Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ Hypnotic Films. “At a time when compelling content is thriving across multiple platforms and distribution channels, it’s critical to partner with creative individuals who can develop potentially evergreen entertainment,” said Wachtel. Added Olmstead, “Steve Carell and Campbell Smith at Carousel Television bring to UCP an undeniable comedic flair and wit, while Michelle Purple and Jessica Biel of Iron Ocean Productions bring a strong female sensibility to a broad range of projects.”
WME-repped Carousel Television has TBS comedy pilot Tribeca, written by Carell and his wife, Nancy Carell, and starring Rashida Jones, as well as eight-episode Fox unscripted comedy series Riot (formerly Slide Show). On the feature side, Carousel has a deal with Warner Bros. “Carousel is thrilled to be in this new deal with UCP,” said Carell. “They share our vision, and they’re great kissers.” Biel and Purple formed CAA-repped Iron Ocean with a mission to produce content with strong feminine voices. Its feature slate includes indie The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; noir/thriller Die A Little, with Christopher McQuarrie; and an adaptation of the Chris Cleave novel Gold with Scott Free.