Renee Zellweger Inks First-Look Deal With MGM TV (Exclusive)

Renee Zellweger - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of MGM TV

Renee Zellweger is the latest talent to cash in on the demand for established names in the Peak TV era.

The actress has signed a two-year, exclusive first-look deal with MGM Television. Under the pact, Zellweger and her Big Picture Co. partner Carmella Casinelli will develop new scripted projects with an eye for the actress to potentially direct and star in.

"MGM is the perfect home for The Big Picture Co. as we look to amplify and invest in stories and storytellers,” Zellweger and Casinelli said Monday in a joint statement. "Their existing library is rich with creative possibilities and we’re excited to embark on this new adventure together.”

The MGM deal marks Zellweger's latest TV foray after she starred in the first season of Netflix anthology What/If. (Word on season two — and Zellweger's role in it — has not yet been given.) The morality drama, from executive producer Mike Kelley (Revenge), marked Zellweger's first-ever TV series regular role.

"[MGM executive vp production] Lindsay Sloane and I were introduced to Renee and Carmella via MGM's [senior vp development] Stacey Levin. We were very excited about the type of projects they were passionate about, so we decided to lock arms and do this together," said MGM TV president of development Steve Stark. "On this 100th anniversary of United Artists, we are honored to welcome them to our studio's long legacy of great storytelling."

For her part, Casinelli began her career as a script doctor for indie features, working with the Wayans brothers. She launched Bon Aire Productions after her first unscripted series, TLC's Welcome to Myrtle Manor and Discovery's Hang Men, launched. Since then, her company has set up multiple pilots at broadcast networks and produced the Netflix film Walt Before Mickey. Casinelli also produced the feature The Peanut Butter Falcon.

MGM TV's scripted lineup includes Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale and Four Weddings and a Funeral; Epix's Perpetual Grace LTD and Get Shorty; FX's Fargo; and History's Vikings.

Actors, like showrunners, continue to take advantage of the demand for established names in the Peak TV era with a slew of overall deals. In addition to the fierce competition for top showrunners, broadcast studios, cable and streamers continue to court talent with first-look deals in a bid to keep top stars in-house and away from competitors as the arms race for talent continues to intensify. 

Zellweger, who next stars as Judy Garland in the feature Judy, is repped by CAA and John Carrabino Management.