NBCUniversal, Chernin Entertainment announce two-year TV deal

NBCUniversal, Chernin Entertainment announce two-year TV deal

Chernin Entertainment and NBCUniversal announced a television deal on Wednesday, marking the end to Chairman Peter Chernin's lucrative five-year deal with Fox.

The new two-year deal with NBCUniversal will give Chernin Television access to Universal Television's roster of writers and producers as well as the option of producing independently for cable and other streaming platforms.  

"This one-of-a-kind deal provides us with the ability to develop great programming while maintaining the autonomy and flexibility we need to continue to be successful in this new era of television," Chernin said in a statement.

Jenno Topping, Chernin Entertainment's president of film, will serve as president of film and television. A head of television development and production is expected to be announced shortly. 

Chernin, who is one of the architects behind streaming giant Hulu, is also known for making investments in digital companies.

Last year, the Chernin Group acquired a majority stake in Crunchyroll, a subscription video-on-demand service that specializes in Japanese animation known as anime. Months later, AT&T Inc. and the Chernin Group's joint venture, Otter Media, acquired a majority stake in the popular YouTube video network Fullscreen Inc.

During his 20-year stint at News Corp., Chernin helped build Rupert Murdoch's film, television and digital empire. He left in 2009 with a rich exit package to start his own media venture. 

Chernin Entertainment's first two projects with Fox -- a prequel to the languishing franchise "Planet of the Apes" and the Steven Spielberg-produced television series "Terra Nova" -- launched in 2011. The company's film and television divisions have gone on to produce films such as the Melissa McCarthy comedy "The Heat" and television shows such as "New Girl."

“Peter Chernin is, without a doubt, one of the most forward-thinking and successful producers and executives in the media business today,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. “I can’t think of anyone better to help us aggressively expand our television business and build hits for all platforms through Universal Television."

The high praise from Greenblatt comes as no surprise. Chernin helped give the NBC executive his big break in television two decades ago.

"He’s also been a close friend and mentor for many years and I’m personally very happy to welcome his company to the fold,” Greenblatt added.

Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment and head of Universal Television, echoed the enthusiasm for the television deal. She said the company is looking forward to working with Chernin and Topping "to create distinctive new television series."

Staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.

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