Producers Get Ax at ABC Studios

ABC Studios has cut ties with more than 20 producers with overall deals at the studio, citing "force majeure" brought on by the writers' strike.

The cuts came late Friday at the Disney-owned studio and primarily involved writers and producers who aren't involved in active shows. Among the bigger names being let go, according to the showbiz trade papers, were "Borat" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" director Larry Charles, "Scrubs" writer-producer Bill Callahan and actor Taye Diggs, who had a producing deal extended when he joined the cast of ABC's "Private Practice."

"The ongoing strike has had a significant detrimental impact on development and production, so we are forced to make the difficult decision to release a number of talented, respected individuals from their development deals," the studio says in a statement.

ABC Studios and most of the other studios suspended overall deals in the early days of the strike. Under the force majeure provision in those contracts, an act outside either party's control -- like the writers' strike -- the studios could terminate the deals after several weeks. Not many people, however, expected a single studio to cut so many overall deals at one time.

The reduction represents about a fourth of the overall deals at ABC Studios (formerly Touchstone TV), the trades estimate. Other studios are expected to cut some of their overall deals in the coming days, though not necessarily as drastically as at ABC.

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