After five years at 20th Century Fox TV, Peter Chernin’s TV operation is moving to NBCUniversal with a new two-year overall deal. Under the rich deal, Chernin Television will develop and produce projects for NBC though Universal Television, working with the studio’s roster of writers. The pact, which is essentially a first-look broadcast deal, excludes cable and digital/streaming platforms where Chernin has the option of producing independently.
In conjunction with the deal, Chernin Entertainment has elevated Jenno Topping to President of Film and Television, where she will now oversee television as well as film for the company. The move comes on the heels of Katherine Pope, president of Chernin’s TV operation, moving to Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8. There will also be a head of television development and production named shortly.
“Peter Chernin is, without a doubt, one of the most forward-thinking and successful producers and executives in the media business today,” said NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. “He’s an innovator and strategist, but at the same time he loves entertaining broad audiences on a big scale with great storytelling. He’s also been a close friend and mentor for many years and I’m personally very happy to welcome his company to the fold.”
Chernin noted that this is his fourth collaboration with Greenblatt, who started his TV career as a junior drama executive at Fox under Chernin, eventually rising to EVP of primetime programming. “This one-of-a-kind deal provides us with the ability to develop great programing while maintaining the autonomy and flexibility we need to continue to be successful in this new era of television.”
The deal also reunites Chernin with NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, who was a top development executive at 20th TV while Chernin oversaw the studio in his role as News Corp. president and also worked with him during his first year as a 20th TV-based producer before she left for NBC.
Chernin segued to producing after stepping down as News Corp. president and COO when his Chernin Entertainment entered rich long-term film and TV pacts at Fox. While he renewed the feature agreement there last November, the five-year TV deal at 20th Century Fox TV just expired. Chernin seriously considered taking the TV company independent. He eventually opted to align himself with a big company, NBCU, but in a new setup that adds flexibility and leaves the company independent in cable and digital.
Under the 20th TV deal, which included multiple series commitments at Fox, Chernin’s TV unit, run by Katherine Pope, fielded one series that has gone to syndication, Fox comedy New Girl, which is Chernin Co.’s only series currently on the air. Other notable shows that ran for more than one seasons include dramas Breakout King and Touch.
On the feature side, Chernin Entertainment has the popular Planet Of The Apes franchise as well as the well received Paul Feig-Melissa McCarthy comedies The Heat and Spy.
As Chernin Entertainment was finalizing its new deal at NBCU, Pope headed to Robinov’s Studio 8, where she will run a newly launched, independently operated TV division.