UPDATED with Levitan’s statement: After Steve Levitan tweeted last night that he was “disgusted” to work for Fox following a controversial statement by a Fox News star, Laura Ingraham, the Modern Family co-creator/co-showrunner this morning said on Twitter that he will be cutting ties with the company. Levitan, who has been at 20th Century Fox TV, which produces Modern Family, for almost two decades, announced that he will not be re-upping his current overall deal, which is expiring.
In a series of tweets, he called 20th TV “a wonderful home for most of my career” full of “so many amazing people who share the concerns about @FoxNews but aren’t in the position to speak out.”
@FoxNews 23-hour-a-day support of the NRA, conspiracy theories and Trump’s lies gets harder to swallow every day as I drive onto that lot to make a show about inclusion,” he wrote, referring to ABC’s Modern Family, which he co-created and executive producers/runs with Christopher Lloyd.
“I look forward to seeing #ModernFamily through to the end and then, sale or no sale, setting up shop elsewhere,” he added.
Following the tweets, Levitan issued a statement through his agent, UTA co-president Jay Sures, clarifying his comments. “I have great respect and admiration for Dana Walden, Gary Newman, Peter Rice and everyone at 20th Century Fox TV studio who have all treated me so well for almost two decades,” Levitan said. “For now, I will take some time to see where these people land, and at that point I will make a decision about my future.”
There had been speculation that Levitan would wait and see how the current bidding over key 21st Century Fox assets, including 20th TV, would go before making a decision on his next overall deal. The battle involves Disney, which owns ABC, and Comcast vying to acquire the assets. While his tweet indicted that he will not be staying regardless where the studio ends up, Levitan’s followup statement leaves the door open for him to reunite with top Fox executives, should they stay with the Fox assets, at the studio 20th TV merges with. He in particular has had a very close relationship with Walden over the years.
Fox News is not included in the sale; it will stay behind as part of New Fox, along with Fox Broadcasting Co. and will no longer be a corporate sibling to 20th TV post-transaction, regardless of the buyer.
Modern Family is heading into its 10th season on ABC. It had been presumed to be a final one though a potential 20th TV acquisition by ABC parent Disney had fueled speculation that the series could possibly go beyond that.
Levitan is committed to remaining on the show through its end though his new development will be for a new studio.
Despite the revised statement, Levitan’s comments still could spark overtures from traditional and digital players. Levitan, who previously created the NBC comedy series Just Shoot Me!, has been one of the top showrunners in town rumored for a potential switch to streaming, to Netflix or Amazon Studios, now run by Jennifer Salke who’d worked with Levitan at 20th TV.
Responding to a tweet quoting Ingraham’s who’s called children detention centers “summer camps”, last night, Levitan wrote, “Let me officially join @SethMacFarlane in saying I’m disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews. This bullshit is the opposite of what #ModernFamily stands for.”
Levitan’s public comments about Fox News are the latest in a string of startling developments over the past couple of days, since Family Guy creator Seth MacFarane on Saturday, replying to a tweet quoting Tucker Carlson’s on-air suggestion that viewers should discount any other news sources besides Fox News, tweeted “This is fringe sh-t, and it’s business like this that makes me embarrassed to work for this company.”
Yesterday, Judd Apatow urged Fox showrunners and talent to call out Fox News’s coverage of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
And this morning, MacFarlane made a $2 million donation to NPR and $500,000 to Los Angeles’ NPR membership station, KPCC, as a way of supporting better information to the public.
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