Sony TV Getting Out Of Producers Biz To Focus On Writers

EXCLUSIVE: A change in the business model at Sony Pictures TV has put a number of top non-writing executive producers in play.

I hear Sony TV recently opted not to renew its deals with Tantamount, Apostle and Timberman/ Beverly Prods. It is part of a new direction, in which the studio is largely getting out of the pod business with two exceptions: pods that are profitable and have multiple series on the air, like Jamie Tarses’ Fan Fare, whose deal was recently renewed, and pods whose auspices are key players on the feature side at Sony, including Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison, Sam Raimi’s Stars Road and Neal Moritz’s Original Television. (pods are production companies headed by non-writing executive producers that function autonomously within TV studios, working with writers to develop and produce projects)

In trimming significantly its pod portfolio, Sony TV is now focusing on deals with high-level writing talent. Two examples of the studio’s new strategy are the recent overall deals it signed with Smallville creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough and with Ron Moore, creator of the SyFy series Battlestar Galactica.

As for Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly and Apostle’s Denis Leary and Jim Sepico, I hear all are close to landing new studio deals and might end up on the same lot again.

Tantamount had been at Sony since its launch 3.5 years ago. Timberman and Beverly had been at the studio for 5 years, while Apostle had been there for more than 6 years, since the shingle started co-producing with Sony the FX drama Rescue Me, which is gearing up for the premiere of its penultimate sixth season. Timberman and Beverly also has an outstanding FX series at Sony – new drama Justified, which was recently renewed for a second season. Tantamount produced a number of pilots while at Sony as well as two series, Fox’s Brothers and Sit Down, Shut Up. Their new comedy series at Fox, Running Wilde, is being produced through Lionsgate TV after Sony pulled out at the pilot order stage. Tantamount also has the ABC pilot Wright vs. Wrong set up at Sony. The project starring Debra Messing is getting reworked and reshot as a pilot this summer.

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