Kelley's at WBTV on Roth's account
Top producer exits 20th TV after 22 yearsOne of the longest and most prolific producing collaborations in television is coming to an end. mAfter more than two decades at 20th Century Fox TV, David E. Kelley is moving to Warner Bros. TV with a three-year overall deal.
Under the pact, said to be around eight figures, Kelley will develop new scripted and unscripted series for broadcast and cable as well as digital projects. His David E. Kelley Prods. will produce the shows in association with WBTV or its cable/ reality arm Warner Horizon TV.
Kelley had been talking to WBTV president Peter Roth about a deal for some time. The two have kept a close relationship since working together on a number of series, including "Picket Fences," "Chicago Hope" and "Ally McBeal" during Roth's tenures as president of 20th TV and Fox Entertainment.
"David E. Kelley is one of the most gifted, most talented, most successful writers in our business," Roth said. "Together we enjoyed a partnership and friendship that will always be special to me."
20th TV had put an offer on the table for a new deal with Kelley but he ultimately opted to go to WBTV, partly because of his relationship with Roth and partly because he felt it was time for a change.
It is perfect timing for a studio switch for Kelley, whose deal with 20th TV expires in June. The final series under that overall deal, "Boston Legal," is in production for its final season 13-episode order at ABC. (He is not expected to have hands-on involvement in the new 20th TV/ABC Studios drama "Life on Mars," which he developed.)
The pact with WBTV is a more traditional overall writer deal, a departure from the quasi-studio status David E. Kelley Prods. had at 20th TV, where it had its own business-affairs and production departments. It is understood that the change was prompted by Kelley's desire to deal less with administrative issues and focus on creating shows.
"I am thrilled to be reuniting with Peter Roth, a great friend and partner in so many of my prior series," Kelley said. "I am also saddened, however, to be leaving 20th, the only studio I have ever worked at for 22 years. Through various regimes, there was never a single day that I was not treated exceptionally well, starting with Harris Katleman, then Peter, Sandy Grushow, Dana (Walden) and Gary (Newman). I remain grateful to all of them."
Kelley had been at 20th TV his entire TV career, since joining the writing staff of "L.A. Law" in 1986. His collaboration with the studio resulted in a string of acclaimed series, including Emmy-winning "The Practice," "Ally McBeal" and "Picket Fences."
"David is a genius and a gentleman and we are parting ways on the very best of terms," Walden and Newman said in a statement. "We wish him good luck in the future and look forward to a time when we may work together again."
Kelley is the second A-lister that WBTV has wooed from their longtime homes in the past couple of years, following the signing of J.J. Abrams from ABC Studios in 2006.
At WBTV, Kelley also joins heavy-hitters Jerry Bruckheimer and John Wells.
Kelley's move comes a couple of months after he signed with Endeavor.
He also was repped in the deal by Marty Adelstein and attorney Michael Gendler. (partialdiff)