Berman, Braun at NBC Uni

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Ex-Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman and former Yahoo! Media Group chief Lloyd Braun have inked a first-look development deal with NBC Universal Television.

Under the three-year pact, NBC and its siblings USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and Telemundo will have first crack at all projects Berman and Braun will develop through their newly launched BermanBraun production company. The deal covers an unusually broad range of projects, including scripted and unscripted shows for primetime and daytime as well as cable and syndication programs.

Additionally, if NBC Uni's networks pass on a project developed by BermanBraun, sister studio NBC Universal TV Studio has a first-look to produce it for an outside buyer.

NBC Uni TV's West Coast president Marc Graboff said he and his team were impressed by Berman and Braun's experience as top network programmers at Fox and ABC, respectively.

Additionally, "they bring to the table tremendous and very complementary skills," Graboff said. "Lloyd is a high-driving, very passionate big-idea guy with tremendous relationships around town, and Gail is a very artistic person with great taste, and talent loves her. The two of them coming together is a killer combo."

Berman and Braun, who were in New York on Monday meeting top NBC Universal brass, are coming back to Los Angeles and will get their TV company going Wednesday in offices on the Westside.

After being approached by several suitors, Berman said NBC Uni felt like the right fit.

"What NBC offered was the most autonomy we can have in the television universe and allows us to be a great partner with them," she said.

BermanBraun will not be in the volume business. "The company is going to be a boutique with small but targeted development," Berman said.

With the overhead money from the deal with NBC Uni, Berman and Braun are looking to hire two development execs, one for scripted series and one for unscripted series.

The TV production arm is the first of three divisions of BermanBraun that the two founders plan to launch by year's end, including an Internet venture and a feature unit.

NBC Uni TV's deal with Berman and Braun is similar to another overreaching multiplatform agreement the company recently inked with producer Ben Silverman.

It is part of NBC Uni TV's plan to create production entities within the company in the mold of the feature studios' labels that can operate without a lot of executive layers above them.

"It creates a great diversity of creative voices," Graboff said.

Berman exited her post at Paramount in January after an 18-month tenure (HR 1/11). Braun left Yahoo! in December, a little more than two years after launching the Santa Monica-based media arm of the Internet giant.

At Paramount, Berman shepherded such films as "Failure to Launch," "Nacho Libre," "World Trade Center" and "Freedom Writers." Before joining the studio, she spent five years as entertainment president at Fox Broadcasting Co., where she spearheaded the development and launch of "24," "American Idol," "The O.C." and "House," among other shows. Berman developed the Fox comedy "Malcolm in the Middle" during her tenure as head of Regency Television, and she was instrumental in the launch of the WB Network drama "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Braun established the Yahoo! Media Group after joining the company in November 2004. He overhauled the creative and business aspects of Yahoo!'s original media properties during his tenure. Before Yahoo! Braun was chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, where he oversaw the ABC network and Touchstone Television studio. Braun was the catalyst at ABC for developing "Lost," the Emmy-winning drama that helped spur the network's turnaround after the show's fall 2004 premiere. Earlier in his career, Braun headed Brillstein-Grey Entertainment.
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