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Litton alights in La-La Land

After years on a barrier island, firm plants flag in Hollywood with big hopes 1/07/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Dave Morgan had been running his syndication and marketing company, Litton Inc., out of tiny Sullivan's Island, S.C., since 1994. And Litton, which distributes and produces such shows as Jack Hanna'sAnimal Adventures
, Thunderbox
and FX's weekly Toughman
series, has made a decent run in the TV business, operating from the barrier reef.

But Morgan, a true entrepreneur who also runs a private jet-leasing company, is now planting a flag in Hollywood, last week, he opened Litton Studios, a small Marina Del Ray, Calif.-based operation that will focus not only on first-run syndication properties but broadcast and network fare too.

"We have worked closely with Hollywood and we have been a part of Hollywood, but if we are going to manufacture out of Hollywood, we have to actually be there," says Morgan, who launched Litton Syndications in 1988. "We may produce Toughman
or some of our other programming around the country, but when we edit, when we cast, when we light, we do it all out of Hollywood."

Morgan has hired former Curb Records executive Brian Curb away from his family-run business in Nashville, to be Litton's new executive vice president, and is still filling in the remainder the staff.

Litton's syndication division began selling sports programming along the East Coast, followed that with the launch of Hanna's weekly series in 1989 and now handles more than a half-dozen first-run syndicated properties. Litton also distributes P. Allen Smith Gardens, ChickenSoup for the Soul, the newsmagazine Urban Latino
and has produced Toughman
for cable's FX Network for the last two seasons.

He knows he's not going to start as a major player. "I'm not building some big arch in Marina Del Rey. I'm not looking to take over the Saban building and put Morgan on the side," he says. "That's not how we have made our money. We have made our money by reading the marketplace and having really good ideas."

Morgan says he received "sizable" financial backing from a Florida investor that will allow Litton to dig right in. Several projects are already in development, including a series entitled The American Image.
It'sa collaboration with WNET-TV New York and is a one-hour weekly look into American culture-whether it be McDonald's french fries or Donald Trump.

The American Image
is being shopped to cable and broadcast networks and the plan is to make enough episodes over the next three or four years so it can be stripped like Biography.

In addition, Litton is about to start on a TV movie, McKenzie's Meadow,
and has a number of cable and network specials coming, including Pet-athlon
for Pax.

"The goal in our first year is to develop the cable and network properties that we already have in place and create a new syndicated property," Morgan notes. "The second year goals include making at least one deal with a broadcast network for a series and to continue doing deals in syndication and cable."

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