Littlefield Picks Top Pilots

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Former NBC entertainment chief Warren Littlefield is moving his production company, Littlefield Co., from Paramount (co-owned with CBS) to Touchstone TV to develop shows for co-owned ABC, which he calls "a network on the move."

A two-year deal will see Littlefield, along with SVP/Development Andy Bourne, develop projects for Touchstone beginning this summer. Littlefield spoke with B&C’s Ben Grossman on Monday about which pilots caught his eye and why it is "much, much harder" to be a network executive today.

WHY TOUCHSTONE?
“They really give a lot of support to their pods.  I like the management group, they’ve been in place there for a while.  [Touchstone TV President and ABC Entertainment Group EVP] Mark Pedowitz and I just connected really well.  I felt that they are certainly on a roll in terms of the amount of successful product they have been able to put together.

They reached out and said they thought it would be a good fit.  And as I look at ABC network, I have a relationship from the past with [ABC Entertainment President] Steve McPherson.  I just look at what he’s doing and I see a lot of opportunity and I see an organization that really seems to be maximizing everything they get out of their product right now.  Their advertising and promotion is outstanding.  They’ve done a great job with scheduling, and there is nothing like a network on the move.”

HOW LONG HAD YOU BEEN TALKING TO THEM?
“Mark Pedowitz and I had breakfast just after the new year.”

WHAT WILL YOU FOCUS ON WHEN DEVELOPING FOR ABC?
“I really started in comedy development and it is an area I’m very comfortable with.  We certainly will do hours as well, but it seems the direction they are headed in is to put on more sophisticated, adult comedy. 

I had a great run at that at NBC, that certainly makes a lot of sense to match up with what that network is, where they’re going and see what I might be able to do on the half-hour side.  But we’re also absolutely aggressive and I really like the hour product.  We’re going to play in both hours and half-hours.”

WILL YOU LOOK TO DEVELOP MORE UNSCRIPTED PROJECTS?
“I don’t a lot, I have one unscripted show that actually premieres tonight on Style [cooking/makeover show Foody Call], but our overwhelmingly-primary focus is with scripted.”

WHAT STOOD OUT FOR YOU FROM THE NEW BATCH OF FALL PILOTS?
“I think Prison Break looks cool - very compelling.  I laughed at My Name is Earl.  And on UPN, Everybody Hates Chris.  It is hilarious, fabulous, a really strong comedy.”

WILL VIACOM WISH CHRIS WAS ON CBS?
“I think they’re thrilled they have it on UPN.  If you asked Les [Moonves, CBS chairman] , I’m sure he would say it was a key building block. 

I think they’re thrilled to have it and they’ve been rewarded because of its strength and quality.  It’s a real opportunity for UPN.”

IS IT HARDER OR EASIER TODAY TO BE A NETWORK ENTERTAINMENT CHIEF?
“Much, much harder.  First, there are just so many more choices for the viewer today. And networks are part of much larger conglomerates, so there are more decision-makers with everything than there have ever been before.

It is much harder to impose your vision on a network when you have to navigate that entire structure, so my hat’s off to them.”

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