'Heroes' welcome for Kring


NBC's hero of the 2006-07 season, "Heroes" creator/executive producer Tim Kring, has inked a new overall deal with NBC Universal Television Studio, the studio behind the hit freshman show.

Under the two-year pact, said to be one of the biggest in television, Kring will continue as the showrunner on "Heroes" and shepherd its upcoming spinoff, "Heroes: Origins," as well as the various "Heroes" offshoots in print and digital media. Kring also is expected to develop new projects for the studio.

This marks the first major talent deal to close since Katherine Pope took the reins of NBC Uni TV as president several days ago. That couldn't be more fitting as Kring and Pope are close friends going back to the early days of NBC Studios, which the two joined within months from each other in 1999-2000.

Kring came to the studio to work as co-executive producer on the family drama "Providence" and soon became one of the first writers signed by the studio in an overall deal. He went on to create and run the long-running procedural drama "Crossing Jordan."

Pope, who has been rising through the ranks of the studio and NBC, has been involved in all three NBC series on which Kring has worked.

"NBC Studios has grown and changed as I have grown, and Tim has too — he's grown to show more of the absolute diversity of his talent," Pope said. "The reason this deal is so important to us is because of Tim's absolutely extraordinary ability to write all types of characters with such authenticity. He can find the humanity in the characters and everything he writes."

Also playing an important part in NBC Uni TV's commitment to extend its relationship with Kring is "his incredible strength as a producer," Pope said.

"He is a brilliant writer, and he also runs one of the tightest ships in town," Pope said of Kring's handle on his shows, which she said is especially impressive on "Heroes," given the scope of production on the high-concept sci-fi series.

Kring called Pope "the one consistent face of the studio for me for all (three) shows" at NBC Uni TV.

"There is a tremendous continuity in my relationship with NBC," he said, "and with Katherine Pope coming back to the studio, it's coming full circle to my original relationship with her."

The main focus in Kring's new deal with NBC Uni TV will be running "Heroes" as well as "Origins," an anthology-type series about people around the world discovering that they have extraordinary powers.

That in itself is a huge undertaking.

"Nothing about the show has been easy," Kring said. "It's become a show that defies expectations each week."

But that is just a small part of the challenges he's faced since the blazing entry of "Heroes" into primetime last fall.

"That has been one of the big changes in my jobs, going from showrunner who oversees writing and production on a show to a person managing a brand and everything involved in that," he said, noting that he relies heavily on his team to keep the "Heroes" armada afloat.

As for the latest top executive changes at NBC: "I'm excited about the new faces, and I'm excited to get to know them and work with them," Kring said. "NBC clearly has some of the most interesting and highest-quality shows on television. It's exciting being at a place that is willing to take bold risks with innovative shows like 'Heroes.'"

Kring is repped by Endeavor and attorney Jeanne Newman.