Paramount Back on 'Beverly Hills Cop' TV Beat as Co-Finance Partner - Broadcasting & Cable

Paramount Back on 'Beverly Hills Cop' TV Beat as Co-Finance Partner

Updated: Studio to co-produce pilot with Sony in first TV project since CBS split
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Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET

Paramount is re-entering the television production business, teaming with Sony Pictures Television to co-finance and co-produce a series based on the movie franchise Beverly Hills Cop.

CBS in January announced a pilot order for the show, which will feature Eddie Murphy in a recurring role as detective Axel Foley, reprising his turn from the 1984 original and its two sequels.

Written by Shawn Ryan, the pilot will be directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Along with Murphy, the cast will feature Brandon T. Jackson as Foley's son (now a Beverly Hills cop himself), plus Sheila Vand, David Denman, Kevin Pollak and Christine Lahti.

While an internal memo Monday afternoon from Paramount chairman/CEO Brad Grey confirmed the series move, it had been hinted at in the morning by Philippe Dauman, CEO of parent company Viacom.

Speaking at Deutsche Bank's Media, Internet & Telecom Conference on Monday, Dauman said Paramount would be putting a "toe in the water" in the TV production arena.

When Viacom and CBS split up in 2005, CBS got the company's TV production assets and the library of Paramount-produced programming.

During a discussion of Paramount's upcoming film slate, Dauman said the studio would be returning to the TV production game very judiciously. "I think Paramount can get back with very little investment into the television production business and maybe work with some of our networks. So that's an opportunity there," he said.

The studio's box-office rebound over the past few years has been built on TV-derived properties such as Star Trek, Transformers and Mission: Impossible.

Grey called the pilot "a great chance to collaborate with our former colleagues."

Paramount has also gotten into the animation business, with a SpongeBob SquarePants movie coming out next year via a new in-house unit hatched in advance of DreamWorks Animation taking its distribution deal to Fox. The second animated film will feature original intellectual property and create consumer product possibilities, Dauman said.

The Viacom chief has been asked by analysts if he'd be a bidder for Sony's studio assets, which are widely believed to be in play (and which include a top-tier TV outfit), but he insists no acquisitions are being actively considered. Instead, the focus is on wringing profit from Paramount.

The studio "is going to help us create value throughout Viacom," Dauman said.

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