Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CBS pulls plug on 20 projects

By Nellie Andreeva

The Hollywood Reporter

In the latest fallout from the writers strike, CBS has trimmed its development slate, letting go of about 20 projects, most of them dramas.

On Friday, the network contacted the reps for the projects, most of which hail from CBS' primary supplier, sister studio CBS Paramount Network TV. Also affected are scripts from Sony Pictures TV, 20th Century Fox TV and ABC Studios.

The list of terminated projects is said to include CBS Par's drama "Brothers Grimm," from writer Stephen Carpenter and Sean Hayes' Hazy Mills Prods., and a 20th TV-produced comedy from writer Barbie Adler.

"Due to the ongoing writers strike, our development needs for the upcoming pilot season have changed, and we have released some comedy and drama scripts," CBS said. "This year's pilot season, at best, will be played out in a very compressed time frame. In this landscape, we are better served creatively, financially and strategically by focusing our development on a more targeted number of projects."

Other networks also might truncate their 2008-09 development slates because of the strike.

Fox declined comment on its plans citing competitive reasons. NBC also declined comment, while reps for ABC couldn't be reached for comment.

The timing of the writers strike dealt a serious blow to the traditional development season. When the strike began Nov. 5, less than a quarter of the scripts commissioned by the networks had been delivered.

Now the 11-week-old writers walkout has put the pilot season in limbo, forcing the nets to mull shortening, postponing or even scrapping it.

The vast majority of the scripts released by CBS had not been handed over to the network. While some writers normally receive some upfront money, their script fees are largely paid upon delivery of the script, something that won't happen now.

The script purge by CBS is the latest cost-cutting measure implemented by the TV networks and studios since the beginning of the writers strike.

It comes on the heels of the termination of about 70 overall deals by the five major TV studios under the pacts' force majeure provisions.

No comments: