9:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Jason Katims Exits Universal TV for Overall Deal With Apple
Another top showrunner is exiting the traditional studio system for a tech company.
In a competitive situation, Parenthood and Friday Night Lights executive producer Jason Katims has signed a multiyear overall deal with Apple. The exclusive pact, which becomes effective in the summer when his deal with Universal TV expires, will see Katims create and develop new projects for the iPhone maker via his True Jack Productions banner.
Katims will remain actively involved in the two projects he currently has set up via his Universal TV pact — Netflix's straight-to-series space drama Away (which he co-writes with his collaborator on Hulu's The Path, Andrew Hinderaker) and Fox's Sisters, which is in development at Fox (with The Path's Annie Weisman penning the script).
Katims' move to Apple reunites him with Michelle Lee, who served as the first head of development at True Jack. Lee now serves as a creative executive on Apple's creative development team, led by Matt Cherniss. True Jack's current head of development, Jeni Mulein, who joined the company in April 2018 to replace Lee, will also make the move to Apple.
The prolific writer-producer started his career on My So-Called Life before serving as showrunner on Relativity and Roswell as well as Boston Public. Katims has been a staple on broadcast with critical hits Friday Night Lights, for which he earned a writing Emmy, and Parenthood. On the streaming side, his first series was The Path for Hulu before Netflix picked up Away last year.
Katims becomes the latest broadcast studio-focused showrunner to jump to a tech giant, joining prolific producers including Ryan Murphy (who left 20th TV), Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris (who both departed from ABC Studios) — who all moved to Netflix — and Justin Lin, with the latter having exited his longtime home at Sony TV last year for a pact with Apple. Since Rhimes' move to Netflix, many top showrunners have taken a closer look at their worth as the overall deals space continues to explode with rich pacts given the demand for proved hitmakers.
Katims also joins former collaborator Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Rise) at Apple. She became the first showrunner to sign a rich ($10 million) overall deal at Apple. Ehrin, too, left at the end of her Universal Television pact. Apple has since inked content deals with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Sesame Workshop and the company behind Peanuts.
Katims is repped by CAA and attorney Ira Schreck.