'The Goldbergs' Creator Moves From Sony to ABC Studios With Big Overall Deal (Exclusive)

The Goldbergs-Publicity Still v2-Inset-showrunner-Adam F. Goldberg-Getty-H 2019
ABC/Byron Cohen; Getty Images

Independent studio Sony Pictures Television is losing a key comedy showrunner.

The Goldbergs and Schooled creator Adam F. Goldberg — fresh off renewals for both series — is leaving his longtime home at Sony TV, having signed a four-year overall deal with ABC Studios. Sources estimate the pact is valued in the mid-eight-figure range, all-in. The deal will begin in June when Goldberg's Sony pact expires. He will move from his longtime home on Sony's Culver City lot to a larger office at Disney in Burbank.

Sources say Sony lowballed Goldberg (Imaginary Mary, Breaking In) and did not expect him to leave the studio. Once ABC Studios came calling with a sizable offer, Sony then attempted to re-up the showrunner, who opted to leave after being strongly pursued by parent company Disney.

"It’s a dream come true getting the opportunity to collaborate with Patrick Moran and ABC Studios for the next four years," Goldberg told THR. "I’ve been a lifetime Disney superfan, and they now have all of my favorite childhood franchises under one roof. Every week of The Goldbergs I write about how Marvel comics, Star Wars, The Muppets, Tron and Indiana Jones shaped who I am today. These properties are my true passion and baked into my DNA. I cannot wait to use the extensive Disney library to continue to make family-friendly TV that parents can enjoy with their kids. Patrick and ABC Studios have been a fantastic partner on Schooled, and I cannot wait to continue to collaborate with them for years to come."

With his move to ABC Studios, Goldberg will remain creatively involved in both shows (with his home-movie taglines on The Goldbergs expected to continue). While The Goldbergs is 100 percent owned by Sony TV, spinoff Schooled is a co-production with ABC Studios and Sony, making it easier for the showrunner to remain at its helm. Goldberg took a back seat running the flagship this season as he focused on launching and co-showrunning Schooled. The shows are housed on the same floor, and Goldberg shuffles between both writers rooms.

Schooled has been a strong midseason performer for ABC this season. The network next season will say farewell to its signature comedy, Modern Family, which will wrap its run with an 11th final season.

Goldberg's pact is the latest sizable overall deal in the past few months as competition for top showrunners continues to sizzle after Netflix inked Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes to massive nine-figure deals. Broadcast-based studios have been aggressive in courting proven hit-makers as Disney, Comcast and Warners launch streaming platforms in the next year or two in a bid to directly complete with Netflix.

Goldberg follows Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Preacher, Future Man, Black Monday) as top content producers to leave Sony. The latter producing duo departed last month for a massive film and TV pact with Lionsgate. Meanwhile, Sony recently inked drama showrunners Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon (Homeland) and comedy producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse) to sizable deals as the studio looks to bolster its ranks. The Goldbergs — a 1980s-set semi-autobiographical comedy — has been a cash cow for the studio, netting a rich syndication deal with Tribune and SVOD pact with Hulu. 

Schooled, meanwhile, has a great backstory. Former Sony TV heads Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht fought to save the series after ABC passed on the pilot back in 2017. After initially shopping the series (Hulu passed), Sony and Goldberg pressed former ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey to air the pilot as an episode of The Goldbergs. Ratings for the episode ticked up, and the comedy was retooled to add The Goldbergs favorite AJ Michalka (Lainey) as its new star before ABC handed out a 13-episode series order. Goldberg created the series alongside The Goldbergs' Marc Firek. Bryan Clalen and Tim Meadows also reprise their roles from the flagship on the single-camera spinoff that originally starred Nia Long, Missi Pyle and Ana Gasteyer. 

Sony TV has faced an uphill battle of late as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms increasingly shift their focus to owning their programming. Sony is an independent studio that has only a stake in its niche streaming platform Crackle. Sony's top showrunners with overall deals at the studio include Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Norman Lear (Netflix's dearly departed One Day at a Time), Graham Yost (who is also shopping his overall deal elsewhere) and David Shore. 

Goldberg is the latest showrunner to land a rich overall deal. Universal TV re-signed The Good Place creator Mike Schur to a five-year, nine-figure pact after losing Mindy Kaling to Warner Bros. TV (who signed a six-year, eight-figure overall). Fresh off the Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Khan also moved her overall from 20th TV to Universal TV. And This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman inked a massive nine-figure pact to remain with Disney's 20th TV.

Goldberg is repped by WME, Circle of Confusion and attorney Bruce Gellman. The deal has been in the works for months, well before the war between the Writers Guild and agencies.