Former 'Earl' writer-producer re-ups at UMS


Danielle Sanchez-Witzel
Former "My Name Is Earl" writer-producer Danielle Sanchez-Witzel has inked a new two-year overall deal with Universal Media Studios, becoming the first graduate of NBC's diversity writing program to get a renewal at the company.

Sanchez-Witzel is one of three big success stories to come out of the 10-year-old program, which sponsors a minority staff writer position on nearly every NBC series.

The other two are Mindy Kaling, who started off as a writer on NBC's "The Office" as part of the program and went on to become a producer and co-star on the Emmy-winning comedy series and ink an overall deal with UMS, and Donald Glover, who as a trainee in the program landed a writing gig on "30 Rock" and now co-stars on another NBC Thursday comedy, "Community," while also working on new projects under a development deal with UMS.

Under the seven-figure pact, Sanchez-Witzel will join an NBC comedy series while also developing her own projects.

In her previous overall deal, the first to come out of the diversity writing program, Sanchez-Witzel worked as a co-executive producer on "Earl" at 20th TV and as co-exec producer on NBC/UMS' upcoming multicamera comedy series "100 Questions." She also penned two pilot scripts for NBC that didn't go to pilot.

Getting another overall deal came as a surprise, Sanchez-Witzel said.

"It may be another crazy decision by NBC," she quipped, adding that "it's a great time to be at NBC."

She added, "I'm so happy the network is shooting so many comedy pilots and, getting over the sting of not shooting mine, it's great to be in the comedy business."

Once an aspiring sportscaster, Sanchez-Witzel switched career paths after taking a sitcom-writing class in the masters program at the UCLA School of Film & Television. She spent a year writing comedy spec scripts and then, under NBC's diversity initiative, landed a staff writer job on NBC's short-lived comedy series "In-Laws" in 2002. That led to a story editor position on another new NBC comedy, "Happy Family," the following year, then the writer-producer gig on "Earl."

"Danielle is homegrown talent who has been at NBC since she was a staff writer," NBC and UMS executive vp comedy programming Jeff Ingold said. "Now her sophisticated and funny voice is focused on creating the next generation of great NBC comedies."

Sanchez-Witzel is repped by UTA and attorney Karl Austen.