ABC spells big bucks for Berlanti

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Greg Berlanti has solidified his position as one of the top TV producers in Hollywood with a new megadeal at ABC Studios.

The five-year pact — said to be top-of-the-market, well into eight figures and featuring a large overhead component — keeps Berlanti at ABC Studios, where he is the most prolific writing producer. He's got three series on the air: ABC's "Brothers & Sisters," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Eli Stone."

After a four-year stint at Warner Bros. TV, Berlanti joined ABC Studios (then Touchstone TV) in spring 2006. A few months later, the studio asked him to lend a hand on the troubled freshman prospect "Brothers & Sisters." Even though his deal was only for development and didn't include services on existing projects, he came on board and steered the family drama to critical acclaim and solid ratings performance. At the same time, Berlanti fielded two new projects — "Money," which he developed with creator Craig Wright, and "Eli Stone," which he co-created with Marc Guggenheim — that both went to pilots, then series and earned second season renewals.

"Greg's an original voice, a great storyteller, an effective producer and a hell of a nice guy," said ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz. "The most talented people in the business want to work with him, and we're honored that he wants to work with us to keep telling the heartfelt, emotional stories that he's known for, and that audiences love."

With his previous deal set to expire next spring, ABC Studios approached Berlanti about extending his stay there.

"I was very open to it," Berlanti said. "My parents taught me: When you find a good thing, hang on to it. It's been the most rewarding experience in my career."

He praised Pedowitz and ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson for "believing in quality programming that is smart and entertaining" and for "putting a lot of trust and faith in their creators and showrunners."

The deal's five-year length puts Berlanti in an exclusive club of heavyweights with long-term pacts, including J.J. Abrams, whose deal with WBTV is said to be comparable with Berlanti's, and Seth MacFarlane. Berlanti views the lengthy deal as an advantage.

"Knowing that I have a home in television for such a long period of time allows me to focus instead on what kinds of shows I want to be part of next," he said.

Berlanti first made his name with teen dramas, starting off on "Dawson's Creek" and going on to create "Everwood" and co-create "Jack & Bobby." At ABC Studios, he has shepherded family soaps "Brothers" and "Money." And then there is "Eli Stone," a dramedy with musical elements about a lawyer with prophetic abilities.

"Just like with high-school shows, there was a time when I got tired of writing: 'He slams his locker door,' " Berlanti said. "With relationship shows, you can get tired of writing 'Off their hug …. 'Eli Stone' is closer to the example of the direction I want to go and the size of the canvas on which I want to tell stories. I want to be part of stories with big concepts and big ideas."

He's already practicing that on the big screen, where he co-wrote Warner Bros./DC Comics' "Green Lantern" and is on board to direct pending a studio green light.

But even with big feature possibilities emerging, Berlanti, repped by Endeavor and attorney Patti Felker, will always have one leg firmly planted in television.

"I love telling stories,"Berlanti said. "I love being a part of television." (partialdiff)
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