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A+E Studios is beefing up its roster.
The newly formed entity has enlisted former ABC Studios chief Barry Jossen to serve as its executive vice president. In that role, he’ll oversee all scripted programming operations for the studio, which has acted as the in-house production arm of A+E Networks since its June 2013 launch.
“Barry’s unparalleled reputation, expertise and track record will be instrumental to the rapid growth of A+E Studios and to the achievement of its business and creative mission,” said Bob DeBitetto, who is president of brand strategy, business development and A+E Studios. Jossen will be based in the company’s Los Angeles office, and will report to New York-based DeBitetto.
“They’re very interested in providing a nurturing creative environment that’s open to new ideas,” Jossen tells The Hollywood Reporter. The incoming exec, who says his first order of business is getting a feel of the types of projects the cable catalog is looking for, adds that it’s too early to consider making programming for outside networks. “What is clear is that they’ve expressed that they’re going to give me a very clean slate on which to operate. If the right opportunity arises, I know they’ll be open to hearing that.”
Jossen joins the studio as it looks to bulk up its offerings in an ongoing bid to own more of A+E Networks’ content. (It’s worth noting that former USA president Jeff Wachtel is looking to do the same over at NBCU.) Current entries include a trio of History projects: a Houdini miniseries, starring Adrien Brody, an eight-hour event series titled Texas Rising and a Revolutionary War mini called Sons of Liberty. The studio is also behind a remake of the acclaimed French thriller The Returned, which is being written for A&E, along with several drama pilots in contention at Lifetime, including Shiri Appleby‘s Unreal.
Jossen exited ABC Studios in July, and was replaced by current chief Patrick Moran. During Jossen’s four-year tenure, the Disney-owned studio could lay claim to Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and more recent hit Scandal. At the time of his departure, however, ABCS had lagged, with a lack of new juggernauts and the network’s biggest comedy success, Modern Family, a 20th Century Fox TV production. Jossen also founded and launched low-cost studio ABC Signature and began pushing further into cable with Lifetime’s Army Wives and Devious Maids.
It was the latter two dramas that helped Jossen foster a relationship with A+E. Jossen worked on Army Wives, one of Lifetime’s most durable dramas until its 2013 finale, for each of its 117 episodes. And when the Marc Cherry-created Devious Maids was a surprise no-go at ABC, which seemed keen on the series in the wake of Cherry’s Desperate Housewives ending, Jossen quietly facilitated the move to Lifetime — where it will soon return for a sophomore season.
As for the kind of talent he’s looking to work with, Jossen says he’s anxious to explore previous relationships and partner with new cable-friendly writers and producers. “I am going to be presenting a very customized approach to our relationship with talent, there’s no one-size fits all,” says Jossen, who calls overall deals “part of an array of opportunities” he’ll be pursuing. “They have already given me the building blocks of a great team that’s already there and the resources to grow that team. I hope that combination will be an alluring opportunity for talent, and as we develop our profile, hopefully there will be a lot of talent to pick us in that very crowded, competitive environment.”
Prior to ABC, the well-liked executive served as a consultant for Imagine Television, where he supervised the production of both 24 and Felicity. Earlier stints included a turn as co-EP on HBO’s Sex and the City, head of production at DreamWorks Television and a producer at Lucasfilm Limited. Additionally, he won an Academy Award for the 1996 live-action short film Dear Diary, which he produced.
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