New 'Black-ish' Co-Showrunner Inks ABC Studios Overall Deal

The three-year pact, valued at a total of $4.5 million, comes after creator Kenya Barris parted ways with the studio behind the hit ABC comedy.
Courtesy of ABC
Kenny Smith

ABC Studios is making up for the loss of Kenya Barris.

The studio has inked new Black-ish co-showrunner Kenny Smith to a three-year overall deal that sources say is valued at a total of $4.5 million.

Under the pact, Smith will serve as co-showrunner alongside Jonathan Groff on the ABC hit comedy as well as create and develop new projects for both ABC Studios and its cable- and streaming-focused arm, ABC Signature Studios.

"We’re thrilled to sign Kenny to an overall deal at ABC Studios," ABC Studios president Patrick Moran said Wednesday in a statement. “Not only is he returning to the Black-ish fold for season five, but we’ll now have the opportunity to develop projects with him across all platforms."

Smith will rejoin the Emmy-nominated comedy as co-showrunner after serving as a co-executive producer during the third season of the series. He was part of the show's Emmy-nominated season that also took home an NAACP Award.

Smith's credits count ABC's Uncle Buck reboot and serving as showrunner on BET's The Game, which he exec produced for its final three seasons (and directed more than a dozen episodes). Most recently, Smith was a co-exec producer on NBC's Universal TV-produced comedy Marlon. He is repped by APA, Circle of Confusion and attorney Bruce Gellman.

Smith was promoted to co-showrunner after ABC Studios formally agreed to let Black-ish creator Barris out of his overall deal with three years remaining. Barris, who had been unhappy at the studio, is said to be closing in on a nine-figure overall deal with Netflix.

"Kenya is at a point in his career where he wants to explore some different things narratively that he didn't feel he could do in broadcast," ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told The Hollywood Reporter this week.