Newmarks, FMNA ink comedy writing siblings

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FremantleMedia North America, whose comedy "The I.T. Crowd" was recently picked up by NBC for midseason, is pushing further into scripted fare by inking sibling writing team Ben and Dan Newmark to an exclusive overall deal to develop scripted and unscripted projects for multiple platforms.

Under their two-year deal with FMNA, the Newmarks will set up offices in the company's corporate headquarters in Burbank. While they will serve as a writer-producer team, they might even act in certain projects. Most recently, the Newmark brothers were developing their comedy/drama script "The Wilton" at Warner Bros. Television for the CW during this past development season.

"Ben and Dan are a sharp, multitalented team," FMNA CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz said. "Their fresh, funny and commercial ideas speak to their generation across multiple platforms, and we're looking forward to creating great projects together."

FMNA chief creative officer Eugene Young said the company became aware of the Newmarks through Larry Barron, FMNA's senior vp development and programming, an alumni of Syracuse University, where the Newmarks studied.

"They came on Larry's radar, and he told us we should meet them," Young said. "We were very impressed with not only their perspective but their freshness, energy, spirit and entrepreneurial instincts, and we decided we really wanted to be in business with them."

Young added that the fact that the brothers -- Ben is 26, and Dan is 22 -- understand the importance of developing for multiple platforms also was key.

Said Dan Newmark: "I think our generation is really in the online world more than the television world nowadays. That's something we will be focusing on when we're developing these shows -- how to successfully bridge the gap between the online and TV worlds with our generation."

As for what kind of projects the brothers might look to develop, Ben Newmark said: "For the most part, Dan and I will stick to what we know, stuff we relate to and have experienced and feel our generation will really respond to as well. There's a lot of lawyer and doctors shows out there doing really well, but we'll leave those to the people who write them well. We'll stick to what we know -- just fun shows."

The deal with Newmarks is the latest move by FMNA to continue its expansion into scripted programming. It comes on the heels of a first-look deal with Wilmer Valderrama to develop and launch projects in the scripted and unscripted arenas in the U.S. and other territories. FMNA also inked a deal with Jackie Collins this year to develop traditional and telenovela-style drama programming with the author, using her original ideas and best-selling library. Young said FMNA is on the verge of pitching a couple of ideas with Collins -- including one based on her book "American Star" -- that could air as miniseries or serialized programs.

Ben Newmark starred in the 2007 Oscar-winning short "West Bank Story" and played Will's son on the series finale of NBC's "Will & Grace."

While in college, Dan Newmark participated in the inaugural Aaron Sorkin Week in 2006. He also studied acting in London at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

The Newmarks are repped by CAA and Craig Emanuel at Loeb & Loeb. Dan Newmark is additionally managed by Glenn Rigberg at Rigberg Entertainment.

In addition to "The I.T. Crowd," which also is from Universal Media Studios (formerly NBC Universal Television Studio), FMNA produces such unscripted series as Fox's "American Idol," NBC's "America's Got Talent," ABC's "American Inventor," CBS' "The Price Is Right" and the upcoming syndicated game show "Temptation," distributed by Twentieth Television.
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