Brad Johnson, head of 20th Century Fox Television's comedy department, is leaving his post to form Watson Pond Productions (He has a cabin in the Berkshires on Watson Pond.). He won't be going far, however.
Johnson has a three-year, exclusive deal with the studio. As big fish in his new digs, Johnson will develop scripted and unscripted, hour and half-hour comedies. He plans to hire a development executive to help him.
"Some have questioned my sanity for launching a comedy-oriented production company at a time when network comedies are, at best, struggling," he says. "I counter that by reminding people that the same scenario worked out rather well for Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey when they hung their shingle during the last Great Comedy Depression."
20th Century Fox will hire a new head of comedy development, who will report to studio chiefs Gary Newman and Dana Walden. Johnson has been at 20th Century Fox since June 2000 and while there he has helped to develop such shows as Arrested Development, Bernie Mac, Still Standing, Reba and The Simple Life.
Besides having a long career as a comedy development executive—including stints at Showtime and Universal Television—Johnson also is a comedy writer himself. He wrote for shows Coach and Delta, and he executive produced Clueless.