EXCLUSIVE: Actor Ryan Reynolds and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps writer Allan Loeb have launched a TV company together. The company, DarkFire, will be based at 20th Century Fox TV with a two-year first-look deal. The company will focus on developing comedy projects, primarily single-camera and mostly for the broadcast networks, with Loeb himself set to write at least one pilot script a year. DarkFire’s name blends the monikers of Reynolds’ shingle with producing partner Jonathon Komack Martin, Dark Trick Films, and Loeb’s company with partner Steven Pearl, Scarlet Fire. Martin and Pearl will run DarkFire, which also will hire a dedicated TV executive as the two will continue to be involved in their separate companies’ film business.
It was Martin and Pearl, who have been friends for 20 years, that first introduced Reynolds and Loeb to each other. As a result, their companies set out to collaborate on A Boy Named Sue, a feature comedy at Working Title written by Loeb, with Reynolds attached to star as a guy who disguises himself as a woman to win his ex-girlfriend back. Sue, which is still in development, led to other joint feature projects, and the foursome’s frequent discussions about the TV business resulted in them joining forces in DarkFire. Both Reynolds and Loeb have TV backgrounds. Reynolds got his break as a star of the ABC comedy Two Guys and a Girl, while Loeb has created several projects that went to pilot, including one that was picked up to series, Fox’s New Amsterdam. Last fall, Reynolds’ Dark Trick sold its first TV project, a comedy script at NBC. Loeb called the decision to set their new TV venture at 20th TV “natural.” Reynolds’ relationship with the studio goes back to his stint on Two Guys and a Girl, which was produced by 20th TV. And Loeb recently did a polish on the pilot of the studio’s big-budget drama Terra Nova. 20th TV chairman Dana Walden praised Loeb’s work on Terra Nova, calling him “collaborative, very complementary and respectful to the work that had been done by other writers.” She said that the studio brass had been trying for a decade to do a deal, reaching out to him previously on three occasions. “Clearly, fourth time is the charm,” Walden quipped. “He is an incredibly inventive guy who comes up with great ideas but also backs them up with great skills as a writer, and he is very versatile.”
Loeb will prove his versatility by writing comedies, coming off a primarily drama background in TV. Why is the new company focusing on half-hours? “We think that there is a real opportunity to develop comedies for the broadcast networks, which are opening more space (for the genre),” he said. While the emphasis will be on live-action comedies, DarkFire may also pursue animated projects. “I don’t think anyone can come close to Seth MacFarlane, but we’d like to try,” Loeb said. The company has a secret comedy weapon. “Ryan is an incredible resource of comedy and the funniest person I know,” Loeb said. Walden remembered how years ago, while serving as head of drama at the studio, she couldn’t do any work when then-Two Guys and a Girl star Reynolds was coming for a meeting at the adjacent comedy department office. “I remember that cute, charismatic and incredibly funny guy cracking everyone up,” she said. While the deal does not stipulate that, whenever his feature schedule allows it, Reynolds is expected to land his support to any series that has come out of DarkFire, including doing cameos. Reynolds, who is in South Africa filming the action thriller Safe House, and Loeb, who is writing a couple of movies — including an adaptation of Neil Strauss’ book Emergency! as a starring vehicle for Robert Downey Jr., with Downey and Michael De Luca producing for Sony — are repped by CAA. Loeb is also with attorney Sean Marks.