10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'New Girl' Creator Liz Meriwether Inks New Overall Deal With Disney's 20th TV
Liz Meriwether is staying put at her longtime home at 20th Century Fox Television.
The New Girl creator has inked what sources describe as a significant four-year, high-eight-figure overall deal with the now Disney-owned studio. Under the pact, Meriwether will continue to create and develop new projects for the studio while also overseeing other writers.
The deal solidifies Meriwether's future with the studio and arrives eight months after she inked a one-year extension as she mulled her future under new corporate parent Disney. Meriwether has been with 20th TV for her entire writing career.
This season, Meriwether co-created ABC's midseason comedy Bless This Mess, starring Lake Bell and Dax Shepard. The project was originally developed for Fox but moved to ABC with a series order for a quick midseason debut. On top of that, Meriwether executive produces ABC's freshman comedy Single Parents alongside her New Girl collaborator J.J. Philbin. This pilot season, she is exec producing ABC's Woman Up, from Zoe Lister-Jones.
"Peter Rice, Howard Kurtzman, Jonnie Davis and Dana Walden have been my creative partners since I was a receptionist living in New York writing a script called Sluts," Meriwether said Tuesday in a statement. "I'm so grateful and thrilled to be able to keep making television at my home studio, which now, I'm hoping, also comes with tickets to Disneyland.”
This is the seventh overall deal that 20th TV has announced since it became part of the Disney fold following Fox's $71.3 billion asset sale. Meriwether joins Drew Goddard, Jason Winer, Octavia Spencer, Nora Smith, Marlene King, Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar.
"Twelve years ago, when we first met, Liz was a wildly funny and talented playwright from New York, who was so dedicated to getting the characters and humor in her scripts exactly right, she’d often pull all-nighters and sleep in her office," said Dana Walden, chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment. "We’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow into a confident, formidable and successful showrunner, who’s currently overseeing three shows, a slate of development and, thankfully, sleeping in her house. She’s outrageously funny, endlessly creative, wildly prolific and also one of the greatest people you’ll ever have the good fortune to know. Craig [Hunegs], Jonnie, Howard and I have made it our mission to keep her here and we’re so glad she said yes."
The deal, which was in the works before the WGA/ATA code of conduct expired, was brokered by WME and McKuin Frankel.
Meriwether becomes the latest producer to cash in on a new overall deal as streamers like Netflix have created a war for top talent. The market for experienced producers continues to escalate as media behemoths Apple, WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast plan streaming services of their own to better compete with established tech giants including Netflix and Amazon. Universal TV earlier this month re-signed The Good Place creator Michael Schur to a five-year, nine-figure pact after losing Mindy Kaling to Warner Bros. TV, where she signed a six-year, eight-figure overall deal. Fresh Off the Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Khan also moved her overall deal from 20th TV to Universal TV in February.
Re-signing Meriwether arrives as multiple producers have started re-evaluating their worth in the midst of eight- and nine-figure overall deals. More recently, 20th TV saw writing and producing duos Phil Lord and Chris Miller as well as Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa both depart for lucrative pacts with Sony Pictures Television.