Groff to 20th TV in 2-year deal


After 12 years at NBC, comedy writer-producer Jonathan Groff has inked a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television.

Under the seven-figure pact, which has an option for a third year, Groff will develop new pro- jects for the studio and will work on existing 20th TV series.

Groff's diverse background had kept him on 20th TV brass' radar for years. A former longtime head writer of "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," Groff most recently co- created with O'Brien and executive produced the NBC comedy series "Andy Barker, PI." He also developed and executive produced NBC's animated comedy "Father of the Pride."

As a studio that bets heavily on comedy and has a strong track record in primetime animation, Groff is a great fit, 20th TV president Gary Newman said.

"We've admired the work he's done, we've loved the scripts he's written, and we made the decision that this was a guy we wanted to be in business with," he said. "We like the fact that, creatively, he is a risk-taker. He thinks outside the box."

While Groff is expected to lend a hand to an existing 20th TV series, his primary focus will be developing new projects, Newman said.

Groff's overall deal with 20th TV is slated to begin in June.

It is unclear how a potential pickup of "Barker" would affect that. The NBC Universal TV Studio/Conaco single-camera series starring Andy Barker as an accountant-turned-private investigator launched as a midseason entry to largely positive reviews but struggled to connect with viewers and was pulled off the schedule before the end of its six-episode run. While a second-season pickup by NBC is considered unlikely, there is talk about taking the show elsewhere.

Groff, who said he is very proud of "Barker," has been at NBC since 1995, when he joined "Late Night." He calls the network and sister studio NBC Uni TV "a great home," but after 12 years there, he said he felt like "trying a new setting."

What attracted him to 20th TV is "that wide palette of shows that they have in their stable — both existing shows and projects in development," Groff said. "They have traditional muticamera shows, they have done experimentation with the genre on 'How I Met Your Mother,' and they have great single-camera comedies like 'My Name Is Earl.' There is no genre that they haven't done well."

Groff said he also was drawn to the fact that 20th TV is a supplier to all networks, which would help his shows find "the best home" and would provide him with an opportunity to possibly work with NBC again.

The only drawback to the deal with 20th TV: a much longer commute from Groff's house in Los Feliz.

"I've bought a fleet of Priuses in anticipation," he quipped.

Groff, whose stint on "Late Night" earned him a slew of Emmy nominations, is repped by UTA, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment and attorney Jared Levine.