The pact had been rumored for months. I hear the agreement with Netflix was made awhile ago but could not be announced until Barris formalized his exit from his ABC Studios deal. Barris and ABC Studios last month announced that his overall deal there would terminate in August, a little over a year into its four-year term. I hear the date was Aug. 15, thus today’s official news from Netflix.
I hear the Netflix deal, which starts today, Aug. 16, is for three years with an option for two more. Under the pact, Barris will produce new series exclusively at Netflix, writing and executive producing all projects through his production company, Khalabo Ink Society. In success, if it goes to five years, the deal is believed to be potentially worth as much as $100 million, possibly crossing into the nine-figure territory of Netflix’s mega five-year pacts with uber series creators/producers Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes.
“Kenya Barris is one of our great modern storytellers,” said Cindy Holland, VP, Original Content at Netflix. “Kenya uses his voice to make audiences more aware of the world around them, while simultaneously making them laugh. His honesty, comedic brilliance and singular point of view, combined with the creative freedom he will enjoy at Netflix, promises to create powerful new stories for all our members around the world.”
In addition to creating the Peabody-awarded and Emmy-nominated ABC comedy series black-ish and its successful spinoff series Grown-ish on Freeform, Barris also is behind the upcoming Freeform comedy series Besties and co-wrote last summer’s hit feature comedy Girls Trip. Per Netflix, “Barris has continually demonstrated his ability to tell stories about the Black experience that resonate with all audiences,” and “with an innate sense for what is funny, truthful and timely, he will continue to create stories that reflect culture through an urban, youth and female focused lens.”
Barris and his agents started exploring a possible deal at Netflix last spring, after ABC pulled a politically charged episode of black-ish at the last minute though that was considered the final straw in a series of events that made Barris grow increasingly frustrated. Today, he quipped about his new network partner and its leaders, Ted Sarandos and Cindy Holland.
“When my agents reached out to me about this little garage start-up called Netflix, I wasn’t sure what to think,” he said. “But after I talked to Ted and Cindy, I started to believe that maybe this mom-and-pop shop with only 130 million subscribers might just be something… so I decided to take a swing… a leap of faith if you will, and take a chance with the new kids on the block.”
Barris is repped by Artists First, CAA and Attorney Gregg Gellman.