Johnson's place turns TV back on

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Mark Johnson is making a big push into television.

The Oscar-winning feature producer is relaunching the television division of his Gran Via Prods. and has tapped former Pariah executive Jonathan Frank to run it.

Gran Via Prods.' return to the TV arena comes on the heels of AMC's series pickup of the drama "Breaking Bad," which the company co-produces with Sony Pictures TV.

The project, written and directed by Vince Gilligan, was developed three years ago for FX and was considered dead until AMC resurrected it late last year.

"I'm so proud of it," Johnson said of "Bad." "It's very different and really good."

"Bad" was one of several projects, including CBS' critically praised "Love Monkey," developed by Gran Via's previous head of television Bryan Seabury, who left the company last year to join CBS Paramount Network TV while Johnson was working on Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia" franchise.

"We were a little quiet in TV for a while, but it wasn't by design but by circumstances," Johnson said. "I've always loved television and believe that some of the best writing and acting is done there."

In his search for a TV exec, Johnson hit it off with Frank. In addition to sharing "the same taste and ambitions," Johnson said he was impressed by Frank's passion for the projects he believes in.

Frank is expected to start at Gran Via in mid-July. "In today's climate, there is a shift toward character-driven dramas, and I don't think there is anyone in the business who does that genre better than Mark," Frank said.

Frank comes to Gran Via from Caryn Mandabach Prods., where he has overseen development for the U.S. side of the former Carsey-Werner partner's U.S./U.K.-based production company.

Gran Via is repped by ICM.
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