Werner branches off to WBTV


After two years as a principal of Werner-Gold-Miller, producer Tom Werner is flying solo with a two-year overall deal at Warner Bros. Television.

Werner is joined by WGM president Mike Clements, who will continue in the same capacity at Werner's yet-to-be-named new company. The company has several projects in the works, including a family comedy from "Everybody Loves Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal, who might also star in it.

Werner formed WGM in 2005 with manager-producers Eric Gold and Jimmy Miller of Mosaic Media Group's Gold/Miller Co. banner. The company set up shop at WBTV short thereafter with a two-year deal.

Following Gold and Miller's move in the summer to dissolve Gold/Miller, WGM had been steered by Werner and Miller for the past year. With the company's deal at WBTV coming up, there was talk about Werner and Miller continuing together, but the two ultimately decided to part ways. The split is said to be amicable, and Miller -- who manages such comedy heavyweights as actors Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen and directors Judd Apatow, Jay Roach and Adam McKay -- will continue to collaborate with Werner on projects he has in development with him.

"I think Jimmy is one of the brightest guys in the comedy business," Werner said. "My friendship with him remains intact, and I hope we work on more projects in the future."

Werner said staying at WBTV, where WGM shepherded four comedy pilots in the past two years, was a no-brainer.

"We felt that we had a very good relationship with the studio and especially with (president) Peter Roth, and we wanted to continue that," he said.

WGM and WBTV last year co-produced pilots "Happy Hour" and "Twenty Good Years" -- both of which were picked up to series -- as well this year's hopefuls "Playing Chicken" and "The Life and Times of Tim."

The new company will continue to be focused on comedy but will venture into other genres if the right idea comes along, Clements said. The company also will join the networks' search for the next big comedy hit.

"We want to bring big, broad-based comedy back to network television," Clements said. "Our primary focus will be on that."

The comedy from Rosenthal, which he co-penned on spec with "Raymond" writer-producer Aaron Shure, was taken out a few months ago, and several networks have expressed interest in it for next season. As for the possibility of Rosenthal starring on the show, the writer-producer started off his career as an actor and has been warming up for a leading series role with appearances on such shows as ABC's "Help Me Help You" and HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Werner's company also has a NASCAR-themed comedy from writers Ian Roberts and Jay Martel set up at Fox.

Before launching WGM, Werner spent 25 years at indie comedy powerhouse Carsey-Werner, which produced such hits as "The Cosby Show," "Roseanne," "3rd Rock From the Sun" and "That '70s Show."

Werner also is co-owner/chairman of the Boston Red Sox. He is repped by CAA.

Before joining WGM in 2005, Clements was co-head of comedy at the WB.