Jerry Bruckheimer Television has landed a new studio home, inking a three-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios.
The pact comes a little more than a year after Bruckheimer TV ended its 15-year run with Warner Bros. Television. At the time, Bruckheimer had decided to pursue talks with investment companies and other players for independent financing that would have allowed him to own a much greater share of his programs that under most studio deals.
It’s understood that Bruckheimer and his TV chief, Jonathan Littman, spent more than a year in discussions with various entities but never found the right fit. In order to remain active in TV development, the company opted to return to a traditional studio overall deal. Bruckheimer TV, headed by CEO Jonathan Littman, has spent the past few months make the rounds of the largest studios other than Warner Bros.
CBS Television Studios is a natural partner for Bruckheimer TV. The companies were long in business together on the “CSI” franchise, which became a global juggernaut and spawned three spinoff series (“CSI: Miami,” “CSI: New York” and “CSI: Cyber”). This past season, Bruckheimer TV delivered the drama series “Training Day,” which was not renewed following the death in February of star Bill Paxton.
“Jerry is a terrific producer and a close friend — it’s just natural that Jerry and his team belong with us,” CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves told Variety. “We’ve done some terrific things together over the years and we expect to have great success with them again.”
Bruckheimer said his company had some interesting discussions with potential financiers during the past year but the decision to strike a deal with CBS boiled down to the fact that Bruckheimer TV is a broadcast TV-focused company. The reality of the marketplace today is that networks are increasingly looking to their vertically integrated suppliers for shows that they can exploit around the world.
“If you want to be in the network business you’ve got to make a deal with one of the networks,” Bruckheimer told Variety. Cutting a deal with CBS was an easy decision, he said, citing his long and successful association with Team Moonves. “They know how to make hit TV shows. There’s no politics there — they just want to put the best shows on and they want to win. They are such a well-managed company all the way down the line.”
Bruckheimer emphasized that the CBS team also serves as a creative partner to producers. “You always want to work with people who bring you added value,” he said. “They’re creative. They’re smart and they understand the business. They will bring us talent and ideas that we wouldn’t otherwise see.”
Bruckheimer TV’s primary focus will remain on dramas but the door is open to other genres. “We’re interested in anything that we would want to watch on a weekly basis,” he said. “If we can find a talented writer to work with in comedy, we will.”
The Bruckheimer TV team stayed intact during the past year as Bruckheimer and Littman sorted through their options. Company veteran KristieAnne Reed serves as president while James Oh is senior VP.
“After producing 1,556 episodes of television for CBS, and our deep relationships with the entire CBS team across the studio and network, this felt like the right time to formally join forces,” Littman told Variety.
Earlier this month, Bruckheimer TV set a development deal with Fox for “Atlanta’s Most Wanted,” a crime drama set to star rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris. Bruckheimer TV’s current series include Fox’s “Lucifer” and CBS’ long-running “The Amazing Race.”
Bruckheimer TV first inked with Warner Bros. TV in May 2001, on the heels of “CSI” exploding into a massive hit. (The “CSI” shows never fell under the Warner Bros. TV umbrella as the franchise was developed prior to the 2001 pact.)
Bruckheimer TV hits delivered during its time with WBTV include CBS’ “Without a Trace” and “Cold Case.” Although the company is known for its distinctive brand of dramas it has ventured into comedy programming from time to time.