EXCLUSIVE: Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is expanding her relationship with the Warner Bros TV Group, signing an exclusive multiyear production deal that spans several different divisions of the company. DeGeneres will build up her production company, A Very Good Production, which will be run by former Comedy Central president of original programming and development Lauren Corrao. Under the deal, DeGeneres and her company will develop and produce scripted network shows for Warner Bros TV, cable fare and reality series for Warner Horizon, and syndicated programming for Telepictures Prods., which produces Ellen’s popular daytime talk show. An interesting detail — I hear the pact has pilot commitments from Fox built into it that stem from DeGeneres’ one-season stint on the network’s American Idol and her good relationship with Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice. I hear that Fox wanted to be in business with DeGeneres and stepped up with the commitments when the network brass heard about her ramping up her production company. Additionally, Warner Bros has a first-look deal with DeGeneres on social media and other digital projects. DeGeneres is a Twitter juggernaut with 5.4 million followers. “I’m so happy to be expanding my relationship with Warner Bros,” DeGeneres said. “It’s kind of becoming a family affair. My brother works on the lot and fingers crossed, my mother’s up for the role of Charlie Sheen’s love interest on ‘Two and a Half Men.’ So this is really working out.” Telepictures president Hilary Estey McLoughlin called DeGeneres “an incredible partner to Telepictures and Warner Bros. (who) has great taste and producing instincts.” Corrao called her “an inspiration and a pioneer both personally and professionally,” adding, “I feel incredibly lucky to be charged with capturing her brand as a producer and building this company together from the ground up.” I hear Corrao, one of the highest-profile available development executives, was the leading candidate for the job whom DeGeneres and Warner Bros. went after from the get-go.
DeGeneres has had a deal at Telepictures since the 2003 launch of her popular daytime talker The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The show, on which DeGeneres serves as an executive producer, has already been cleared in the vast majority of the country through the 2013-14 season, following the 3-year renewal on the NBC owned-and-operated stations in February. DeGeneres is focusing on producing following a busy last season, in which she served as a judge on Idol in addition to doing her daily talk show. Corrao left Comedy Central at the end of last year to return to producing. During her seven-year stint at the cable network, she shepherded The Sarah Silverman Program, Chappelle’s Show, Drawn Together, Reno 911! and Important Things with Demetri Martin. Before that, she was a producing partner with Peter Tolan, developing and executive producing with him ABC’s The Job, and also worked at Fox as VP comedy and VP alternative & late night.