Steve Levitan, the Emmy-winning co-creator, executive producer, co-showrunner and director of Modern Family, has signed a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, remaining at the studio he has called home for the past 20 years. Under the massive pact, believed to be for four years and well into the eight figures, Levitan will create, write, develop, direct and supervise series projects for the studio, now part of Disney Television Studios.
Levitan had been without an overall deal since last year. In June 2018, he was one of several top creators of 20th TV-produced series to speak up following a controversial statement by a Fox News star, Laura Ingraham, tweeting that he was “disgusted” to work for 21st Century Fox, which owned both the studio and Fox News, and announcing he would not be re-upping his 20th TV overall deal, which was expiring. He later clarified his comments, lauding the top executives at the studio and noting that would “take some time to see where these people land” before making a decision about his future.
The Fox assets, including 20th TV, which at the time had been locked in a bidding war between Disney and Comcast, were acquired by Disney, with most top executives who oversaw 20th TV, including Peter Rice and Dana Walden, moving over.
Levitan, who has had a close relationship with Walden for a long time, started conversations about a new overall deal soon after the merger dust settled. As any mega overall deal these days, it took time to close. In his statement about the new pact, Levitan references 20th TV’s split from Fox News, which stayed with Fox Entertainment after the Disney deal.
“While I’ll miss seeing Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham at the Fox company picnic, I’m thrilled to make this move to Disney where I can still cling to so many people I love and respect,” he said. “Good friends like Dana Walden, Peter Rice, Bob Iger, Howard Kurtzman, Jonnie Davis and Carolyn Cassidy, to name just a few, have been steadfast supporters over these last twenty years and I’m deeply grateful to join them and Craig Hunegs as I try to produce a few of the 46-thousand shows on television.”
This is the latest big overall deal announced by 20th TV since its acquisition by Disney was finalized in March.
“We made a deal with Steve twenty years ago and every year we’ve worked together has been fruitful, unexpected, and very meaningful to all of us. Modern Family, which Steve created with Chris Lloyd, is one of the funniest, best and most award-winning comedies in the history of television,” said Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. “He’s a brilliant writer and an extraordinary producer, who asks more of himself than we ever could. His love of comedy is evident in everything he writes and he elevates everything on which he works. On a personal note, he’s a spectacular person who has become a close friend and I’m thrilled that he’s continuing to make his home with us. Finally, it’s worth noting that my quote would have been significantly funnier had he punched it up.”
Levitan is currently shepherding the five-time Emmy-winning series Modern Family with co-creator and executive producer Lloyd through its farewell season, which will conclude its 11-year run on ABC in 2020. After that, Levitan aims to guide multiple projects, developing younger voices and up-and-coming writers through the challenging pilot process, in addition to creating new shows.
Winner of five consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys for his work on Modern Family, Levitan also received an Emmy for writing the pilot episode with Lloyd in 2009, as well as for writing the “Caught In the Act” episode in 2010 and for directing the “Baby on Board” episode in 2012.
His additional credits include Wings, Frasier, The Larry Sanders Show, Just Shoot Me (creator), Greg the Bunny, “as well as several shows he’d like to pretend never happened,” according to Levitan. A Chicago native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (dubbed The Harvard of Southwestern Wisconsin by Levitan), his honors include nine Emmy Awards for writing, producing and directing, five Writers Guild Awards, two Humanitas Prizes, a Peabody Award, five Producers Guild Awards, a Comedy Writer of the Year Award, four AFI awards, two Television Critics Awards and a DGA nomination.
Levitan is repped by attorney Sam Fischer.