TV Production Company Jumps Ship

Brillstein-Grey Entertainment has ended its television production arrangement with Universal Studios Inc. and struck a new joint venture with Sony Corp.'s Columbia Tristar Television Group. Under the settlement with Universal, which bought 50% of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment in 1996 for $80 million, the Hollywood studio will retain control of three programs Brillstein-Grey has on the air: "NewsRadio," "Just Shoot Me" and "The Steve Harvey Show." Brillstein-Grey and Universal will split the profits from those shows. Brad Grey, chief executive of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, will retain some creative input in the programs, although Barbara Fisher, formerly president of Studios USA Films, will oversee them as the new head of creative affairs. Universal sold most of its TV assets to Barry Diller's USA Networks last year. Under Brillstein-Grey's new four-year, 50-50 joint venture, called BGTV, Sony will fund $50 million worth of new development and will pay for the company's overhead and cost of producing new programs. Sony has distributed Brillstein-Grey programs since 1991, and expects big returns from the sale of reruns of Grey's highest-rated program, "Just Shoot Me," on NBC. Apart from the production companies, Grey owns a talent agency, Brillstein-Grey Enterprises, which represents actors including David Spade, Nicolas Cage, Dana Carvey, Courtney Cox and Brad Pitt. Universal has also ended a feature film deal with Grey, who is expected to announce a new arrangement with another studio in the next month.

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