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Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that FX and Fox 21/Touchstone Television are negotiating with the True Detective creator on an exit package that would end his first-look deal with the two Disney-owned brands. The decision, per sources, comes as Pizzolatto has two years remaining on the deal that he signed last year.
Pizzolatto’s FX/Touchstone deal was tied to Redeemer, a drama that was to have reunited him with True Detective star Matthew McConaughey. Based on Patrick Coleman’s novel The Churchgoer, the drama had a sizable script-to-series commitment at FX. McConaughey dropped out of Redeemer, sources say, and without the actor involved, FX is no longer moving forward with the series and no longer needed to keep Pizzolatto under a deal of his own tied to the show.
The decision to sever ties with Pizzolatto arrives as Touchstone (formerly known as Fox 21) has undergone a series of changes in the past year. Fox 21 was part of the studio operations that was sold to Disney a couple years ago. Disney rebranded the studio as Touchstone Television last year and, as part of efforts to consolidate its studio operations, folded Touchstone into 20th Television in December. As part of the changes, Fox 21/Touchstone president Bert Salke — who had overseen the studio for a decade — stepped down from the post. (He has since inked his own rich producing deal with Disney Television Studios.)
Pizzolatto moved his overall deal to FX/Touchstone last January after the True Detective creator departed his former longtime home at HBO. Pizzolatto had been with HBO since the first season of True Detective. The anthology earned 12 Emmy nominations, including for star McConaughey and writing for Pizzolatto. (Season one took home five wins in other categories.)
As for his decision to leave HBO, sources told THR last year that the showrunner met with executives at the WarnerMedia-owned premium cable network to discuss a new deal and all parties involved agreed that it was time to part ways. He had renewed his original deal with HBO twice, last earning around $3 million a year. (HBO owns the rights to the series and could renew it for a fourth season with a new writer.)
Pizzolatto ultimately signed with FX/Touchstone after meeting with multiple streamers as well as traditional studios amid the streaming arms race and the fierce competition to sign established showrunners.
Reps for Pizzolatto, FX, Touchstone and sibling studio 20th Television all declined comment.
As for FX, the John Landgraf-led basic cable network has a slate of originals that includes American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Atlanta, Better Things, Breeders, Mayans, Pose, Snowfall and What We Do in the Shadows as well as the upcoming Reservation Dogs and Pistol. As part of Disney’s investor day late last year, FX announced an Alien TV series, a drama with The Rolling Stones and a redeveloped take on Shogun. The network is also developing a dramedy with former Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner.
Borys Kit contributed to this report.
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