'Breaking Bad's' Vince Gilligan Inks Rich Multi-Year Deal at Sony TV
The rich eight-figure deal is for TV only, which leaves Gilligan, who is eager to write and direct a feature, unattached when it comes to film.
The medium’s most coveted writer has settled on a home.
After months of being wooed by multiple studios including heavyweight Warner Bros. TV, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has inked a rich eight-figure, multi-year deal at Sony Pictures Television. The latter is where Gilligan has spent much of his TV career and he has long-standing relationships with the Bad studio’s programming presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack VanAmburg.
"When I pitched Breaking Bad for the very first time, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht bought it immediately. Only later did I realize how extraordinary that was -- once the three of us took it around town and heard 'no' after 'no' after 'no,'" Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter, adding: "Michael Lynton, Amy Pascal, Steve Mosko, Zack and Jamie and all the other good folks at Sony have treated me very well over the years, and I'm pleased to continue my professional affiliation with these people who have become my friends. I'm happy to dance with the gal that brung me, as we say in the (grammar-impaired) South."
It's unlikely that the studio is expecting Gilligan to churn out a plethora of projects a la 20th TV's Howard Gordon or Warner Bros. TV's Greg Berlanti, despite the hefty sum Sony TV ultimately was willing to shell out to keep Gilligan in its quarters. Though Gilligan acknowledged to THR in his October cover story that he respected and admired the empire that J.J. Abrams has been able to build as a more hands-off producer, he was quick to add that he had not yet found a way to have as many spinning plates, nor was he clear that he would be effective or happy in that more nebulous area between very hands-on and very hands-off.
Gilligan’s deal for AMC’s Bad spinoff Better Call Saul has been finalized, too, say insiders. He has said that he intends to direct the dramedy pilot and be intimately involved in the writing process for at least the first season of the hour-long effort. If all goes according to plan, Saul will be on the air in 2014, with Bad cast members, including Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, expected to make cameos. Though Gilligan will be significantly less involved in his CBS cop drama, Battle Creek, which House’s David Shore has been brought on to run, he has expressed interest in directing the network pilot. The latter garnered a 13-episode straight-to-series order earlier this fall, a commentary on Gilligan's current clout, among other things. (Both projects are set up at Sony.)
"With Vince, you forget you're working and just become a fan. His stories are captivating, his energy is electric, and his friendship is appreciated. We've had such success together, and can't wait for all the great things to come," VanAmburg said in a statement, with Erlicht continuing: “Vince is an incredible writer and partner, and he shares our vision for the business and for the kinds of projects we’re passionate about. There wasn't a world where we weren't making this deal.”
In his revealing THR feature, Gilligan opened up about the fears of moving on post Breaking Bad. The series, which had dozens of critics dubbing it among the --if not the-- best in small screen history, concluded its run with an outstanding drama Emmy and a record 10.3 million viewers. Looking ahead, Gilligan noted that he’s all too aware that he’ll never be able to fly under the radar again, just as he won't be able to do anything that isn’t compared to Bad. “It scares me,” he confessed of a post-hit concern for which The Sopranos’ David Chase and Lost’s Damon Lindelof, among others, can empathize, adding: “The odds of winning the lottery two weeks in a row are pretty infinitesimal.”
It is worth noting that Gilligan will remain untethered when it comes to features, an arena he has said he is eager to work in as a director. Though he is less focused on genre than he is on material, he recently told THR that he’s interested in making a western at some point. Until he lands on a specific concept to pursue, however, he likely will continue to be deluged by offers to helm various studios projects.
The showrunner is repped by ICM Partners' Mark Gordon and Chris Silbermann, the masterminds of the significant Sony deal, and Del, Shaw, Moonves.