Larry Wilmore Exits ABC Studios Overall Deal for Four-Year Universal TV Pact

Larry Wilmore - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Austin Film Festival

Add Larry Wilmore to the ranks of producers who are cashing in with overall deals.

Wilmore, the former host of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show and a prolific scripted producer, has signed a sizable four-year overall deal with Universal Television. Wilmore is fresh off of a three-year pact with ABC Studios, whom sources say was among the outlets who pursued the producer and host for a new deal. Wilmore Films vp development Candace Rodney will also make the move to Universal TV.

Wilmore will create and develop new projects for the Pearlena Igbokwe-led Universal Television under his Wilmore Films umbrella. The overall brings Wilmore back to the Universal TV fold after he helped launch the studio's NBC hit The Office.

"I'm beyond thrilled to be back at Universal Television to join Pearlena and her amazing team! As a teen I actually used to sneak on the Universal lot and dream of belonging there some day. It's nice to not have to sneak on anymore. I'm living my dream!" Wilmore said Thursday in a statement.

Wilmore, an Emmy and Peabody winner, currently hosts Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air for the Ringer Podcast Network. He has played a key role in creating and launching some of television's biggest hits over his 25-year career, including The PJ's, The Bernie Mac Show, The Office, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Black-ish, Insecure and Grown-ish. (He created or co-created four of those.)

"The number of successful shows that Larry has had a hand in launching is impressive and he shows no signs of slowing down," said UTV president Igbokwe. "I could not be more excited and consider us lucky that he has chosen to call Universal his home for the next few years."

Wilmore becomes the latest producer to make the jump to another studio as the overall deals market continues to sizzle. Phil Lord and Chris Miller departed 20th TV for a nine-figure pact with Sony, with the indie studio also handing out a significant payday to Homeland duo Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon (who also moved from the now Disney-owned 20th TV). Fresh Off the Boat's Nahnatchka Khan also moved her overall deal from 20th TV to UTV earlier this year. (UTV has not been immune from losing producers, either, as Mindy Kaling and Jason Katims departed their longtime home for a pact with Warner Bros. TV and Apple, respectively.)

At UTV, Wilmore joins a roster of producers that also includes Mike Schur (The Good Place) and Dick Wolf (Law & Order, Chicago franchises), among others.

Feeding the urgency for the frenzy of overall deals is the fact that multiple media behemoths — including Disney, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia and Apple — are set to launch streaming platforms of their own late this year and in 2020. The ongoing feud between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agencies over packaging fees has also made such pacts vital as studios can directly dial up their top producers for new development.

Wilmore is repped by 3 Arts and Hansen Jacobson.