John Ridley Inks Big Five-Year Overall Deal Renewal at ABC Studios

john ridley - Publicity - H 2019
Rocco Ceselin

Oscar winner John Ridley is staying put at ABC Studios.

The 12 Years a Slave writer has extended his overall deal at the Disney-owned studio for another five years. The pact, which will see the American Crime creator develop content across multiple platforms, is his second renewal since he first made the Patrick Moran-led studio his home back in 2014. The studio says he's already at work on several projects for broadcast, cable and streaming. (Details on the new projects were not immediately available.) 

Ridley has been with the Disney-owned studio through three network regimes after former ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee first brought him to the company. During his tenure with the studio, Ridley created and executive produced American Crime, which ran for three seasons from 2015-17 and racked up 17 Emmy nominations, including two wins for star Regina King.

The rare five-year commitment arrives as interest in proven filmmakers and showrunners has reached a fever pitch in the Peak TV landscape as streamers continue to poach top hitmakers away from their homes at traditional studios (like ABC Studios). Keeping Ridley was important for the studio — which in the past couple years has seen its top drama (Shonda Rhimes) and comedy producers (Kenya Barris) exit with time remaining on their deals for lucrative pacts with streaming giant Netflix. 

"John Ridley has been making incredible content for us since his Emmy-winning series American Crime," Moran said Thursday in a statement. "There's no one in the business like John, who brings such incredible skill and creativity to everything he does. We are thrilled to have a new long-term deal with him and so look forward to what's next from this visionary filmmaker."

Said Ridley, "I'm so appreciative to ABC Studios and the entire Disney company for this massive show of faith and support. My absolute best work has been with ABC Studios. Their commitment is substantial, and as the company grows I can't imagine having a better home from which to reach the widest audience possible."

Ridley's new pact arrives as Disney is poised to double down on content with the fourth-quarter launch of its Netflix rival, Disney+. The direct-to-consumer platform will feature a suite of scripted originals from Disney's top brands, including Marvel and Lucasfilm. Disney will also be acquiring a humongous slate of IP — and showrunners (and stake in Hulu) — as part of its Fox asset acquisition. Ridley, in success, could develop for a number of those platforms.

Ridley directed the first episode of the upcoming Godfather of Harlem, an ABC Signature Studios show for Epix starring and executive produced by Forest Whitaker. It is set to premiere in the fall. He also wrote and directed the feature Needle in a Timestack, which is in postproduction.

Ridley also recently opened NO Studios, a collaborative space for artists, in his hometown of Milwaukee. 

Financial terms of Ridley's overall deal were not immediately available. He is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Rohner Walerstein.