Universal Television has closed about a half-dozen overall deals over the past few weeks, with several more in the works. The completed pacts include renewals for Peter Berg & Sarah Aubrey’s production company Film 44 and writers Alexandra Cunningham and Michael Pennie and first-time agreements with Victor Fresco new Sarah Watson. The brisk deal-making comes months after NBC announced its plans to reestablish its production arm into a full-fledged studio, renamed it Universal Television and tapped Bela Bajaria to run it. Bajaria said the replenishing of the studio’s talent roster is part of “the long-term goal to rebuild Universal Television into a major supplier of quality, ground-breaking, successful dramas and comedies.”
Last summer, the studio stepped up to re-up The Office and Parks & Recreation executive producer Greg Daniels and sign a pod deal with Peter Traugott. Both pacts resulted in pilots this season — Daniels wrote and executive produces comedy Friday Night Dinner and Traugott’s company is behind dramas Midnight Sun and Do No Harm. The larger than normal volume of Universal TV overall deals stems from the fact that, eager to start their first development season after the restructuring with a fully-staffed roster of writers, the studio’s brass moved to make those deals early as they plan to be aggressive next cycle. In making overall pacts, the studio has the financial backing of NBC’s new owners but is not going on a spending spree, instead taking a targeted approach to sign specific writers that it wants to see developing and/or running Universal TV series. “Each has a distinct voice, brand, fresh ideas, understanding of television, an eagerness to produce television for all broadcast networks and the commitment to help us rebuild the studio,” Bajaria said. “Each of these deals is a building block to the future.”
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