Lawrence back in fold at ABC Studios


After six years at NBC Universal TV Studio, "Scrubs" creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence is returning to ABC Studios with a four-year overall deal.

Under the pact, said to be in the eight-figure range, he will run the final season of the ABC Studios-produced "Scrubs," which recently received a last-minute seventh-season pickup by NBC. Lawrence also will focus his attention on developing new series for the studio.

"Bill's unique comedy voice and tremendous showrunning talent have driven the long-running success of 'Scrubs,' " ABC Studio spresident Mark Pedowitz said. "We value our great relationship with him over the seven-season run of the Peabody Award-winning show and felt it imperative to bring his development back to ABC Studios. Plus, he makes me laugh."

Lawrence spent three years at Touchstone TV, developing "Scrubs" in the final year of his deal there before going to NBC Studios in 2001. But he doesn't want to call his new deal at ABC Studios a homecoming because he never actually left as he ran "Scrubs" for the past six years.

He said: "The strangest thing is that, technically, I worked at NBC, but my studio on the show has been Touchstone. (Lawrence refuses to accept the studio's new name and is launching a grass-roots campaign to bring back the old Touchstone moniker). They've been my partners, and I've been working closely with Mark and (executive vp) Julia (Franz)."

During his six-year stint at NBC Uni TV, Lawrence developed a number of pilots, none of which made it on the air (though his pilot for WB Network's "Nobody's Watching" had a brief afterlife on the Web).

"I didn't make any move based on sour grapes," Lawrence said about his departure from NBC Uni TV. He praised NBC executives for keeping the critically praised but low-rated "Scrubs" on the air for seven seasons as well as for "graciously letting me exit because they knew it was in my best interest."

Lawrence had one year left on his deal at NBC Uni TV that ABC Studios has taken over, adding three years to it.

He already is brainstorming show ideas and plans to meet next week with Franz and Pedowitz to discuss them.

"I got to get a new comedy on the air quickly before there are no comedies left on television," he quipped, referring to the broadcast networks' retreat from the genre this season.

After seven years on the single-camera "Scrubs," Lawrence is pondering a return to the multicamera format that is being shunned by most networks. The format worked well for him with ABC's hit "Spin City," which he co-created.

"It's hard to sneak a multicamera sitcom through the system these days, but I think that the next person who does it will probably strike gold."

One thing is for sure: Lawrence will be developing for ABC Studios' sister network ABC. That's what his seven-year experience working on the NBC/ABC Studios "Scrubs" taught him.

"The lesson I learned is never to put on a network a show that is owned by another network," he said.

Lawrence is repped by ICM, manager Howard West and attorney Jared Levine.