Seven years after the end of Lost, former executive producer/co-showrunner Carlton Cuse is returning to the studio behind the Emmy-winning ABC drama with a four-year overall deal.
Through his company, Genre Arts, Cuse will develop new projects — creating by himself or collaborating with/supervising other writers — for network, cable and streaming platforms. “It is with great pleasure that I am returning to ABC Studios, my happy home for six years during Lost,” Cuse said.
Following a short break after the end of Lost, Cuse has kept very busy, landing five series orders and three additional pilot pickups, working on as many as four series simultaneously. Of the four series that have premiered, three, A&E.’s Bates Motel, FX’s The Strain and USA’s Colony, have had successful, multi-season runs. The fifth, Jack Ryan, will debut on Amazon next year. Additionally, Cuse has horror-fantasy pilot Locke & Key in the works at Hulu.
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“Forming a partnership with a writer/producer/director as talented and prolific as Carlton Cuse is a major victory for ABC Studios,” said Patrick Moran, president, ABC Studios. “We’re so looking forward to working with him again and bringing his signature creativity back to our studio.”
The big pact with Cuse comes just as ABC Studios lost its top drama producer, Shonda Rhimes, who left for a deal at Netflix.
Cuse is coming off a three-year first-look deal with A+E Studios. He took a lot of meetings and considered multiple options before deciding to go with ABC Studios. Disney-ABC’s Ben Sherwood and Bruce Rosenblum “were supportive of my idea of trying to start a company that might hopefully become a brand,” Cuse said. “I am very excited to be working alongside wonderful and iconic Disney brands like Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm to create and bring entertaining and compelling stories to the screen.”
The name of Cuse’s company — as well as his body of work, especially in the past twelve years, starting with Lost –– is an indication of the type of fare he is aiming to do. “I love genre storytelling with a high-quality bar, a compelling twist or narrative element,” he told Deadline. “If you look at the shows I’ve done, that’s very much my sweet spot. I think Lost was an example of an elevated genre show that worked well, and I want to continue to work in that arena.”
Since Lost, out of five series and three pilots, only one pilot, NBC’s comic-based The Sixth Gun, was for a broadcast network, while all the others have been for cable and streaming networks.
At ABC Studios, which is closely affiliated with ABC while also producing for cable and digital via its division ABC Signature, “I intend to do both cable and broadcast,” Cuse said. “While the recent focus has been on cable, I love broadcast television, and I think it’s still possible to make compelling shows for broadcast. To me, it’s really about finding ideas I like and identifying the best place for each of them.”
Cuse is known for his collaborative skills. He is liked by fellow writers who seek creative tandems with him. He partnered on Lost with Damon Lindelof, on Bates Motel with Kerry Ehrin, on The Strain with Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, on Jack Ryan with Graham Roland, and on Locke & Key with Joe Hill and Colony with Ryan Condal.
“The very best part of my job is working with other writers to come up with cool ideas, solve story problems and get stories made,” Cuse said.
Cuse, who also created and executive produced Nash Bridges and wrote the screenplay for the feature film San Andreas, has groomed over 30 writers who began on staffs of his series and are now showrunners. They include Lindelof, John Wirth, Shawn Ryan, Gough & Millar, Kitsis & Horowitz (Once Upon a Time), Ehrin, John McNamara, Pam Veasey, Glen Mazzara and Brian K. Vaughan, to name a few.
Genre Arts will be based on the Disney Studios lot, and Lindsey Springer, who joined him from Amblin TV two years ago, will serve as president of the company.
Cuse’s deal was negotiated by WME and attorney Karl Austen. He is managed by Cliff Roberts at Syndicate Entertainment.
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