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Stephen McPherson Partners With Lionsgate and Fox in TV Return

Steve McPherson
Stephen McPherson

UPDATED: The former ABC Entertainment topper, three years largely out of the business, has a first-look deal and new development commitments.

Stephen McPherson is making his way back into TV.

Nearly three years after his sudden exit as ABC Entertainment chief, the exec is staging a re-entry with partnerships at Lionsgate TV and Fox Broadcasting Co.

The Hollywood Reporter confirms that McPherson has signed a two-year first-look deal with Lionsgate that will see him developing scripted and unscripted efforts at the studio. The production pact with Lionsgate comes on the heels of a development deal at the Fox network.

The network has committed McPherson to develop at least three projects there, a deal that sees him working with longtime friend, Fox chairman Kevin Reilly. (The duo's relationship dates back to their time together at Cornell.)

McPherson's most recent efforts have kept him out of the spotlight since conflicts with Disney bosses put an abrupt end to his decadelong tenure at ABC and installed Paul Lee in his position. He left the company in July 2010, just days before ABC was to present its fall programming to the Television Critics Association. THR reported multiple sexual harassment complaints against McPherson at the time of his exit, which prompted an internal investigation at ABC.

A wine label and whiskey brand, as well as an intense exercise regime that had him competing in Iron Men competitions, have occupied his time over the past three years.

This is not the first time McPherson has attempted a TV return since leaving ABC. His name was briefly thrown into the ring to relaunch Regency Television -- though that job ultimately went to Syfy vet Andrew Plotkin. Multiple sources suggest a deal with 20th Century Fox TV ultimately fell through.

McPherson, whose ABC accomplishments include the launch of Modern Family, briefly came out of hiding in the summer to testify in Nicollette Sheridan's lawsuit over her dismissal from ABC's Desperate Housewives.