Here's the actual launch memo announcing "fox 21," Fox's new, low-budget production arm that's "aimed at producing edgy and inventive scripted and alternative series on lower budgets." [Ed.note—"Alternative series" sounds a little like "strike insurance." But what do we know?]
Oh yes, we've also helpfully bolded all of the references to money.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION CREATES
NEW BOUTIQUE PRODUCTION DIVISION, FOX 21
New Division will be led by Fox Veteran Jane Leisner and Launches with Commitments from FBC and FX
May 4, 2004, Hollywood, CA - In a bold expansion of its operations, Twentieth Century Fox Television will create an entirely new production arm entitled "fox 21," it was announced today by Presidents Gary Newman and Dana Walden. Led by respected television executive Jane Leisner, the boutique studio division launches in early June, 2004. While fox 21 aims to service all the networks, the venture has already secured major programming pledges from the Fox Broadcasting Company and the FX cable network, with both networks giving the new venture 3-for-1 put pilot commitments.
An entirely new endeavor of programming supplier Twentieth Century Fox Television, fox 21 was created by Walden, Newman and Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs, Howard Kurtzman, to accomplish one of the company's longstanding goals: controlling the escalating costs of TV production by rethinking the economics of making shows. Meant to be a haven to creators, this new division will be devoted to helping writers realize their "passion projects," and ideas that might be considered too personal or unconventional for other studios will be championed here. The mandate of fox 21 will be to make fewer shows but to make those shows more distinctive, more daring, and more cost efficient, thereby maximizing their odds for success.
"We are thoroughly committed to the idea that greatness in this medium is not connected to the size of a show's budget," commented Walden. "Rather, it is defined by the quality and distinctiveness of an idea and the passion and skill of great writers and directors. We've watched with great admiration what Fox Searchlight has done on the feature side in terms of making films that are creatively adventurous while maintaining great financial discipline. fox 21 will borrow many of Searchlight's operating principles as we endeavor to produce television differently."
Newman and Walden tapped Leisner, recently cited as one of the industry's most promising young executives, to head up the venture as Senior Vice President, fox 21. Leisner joined the studio's drama department in 1997, and her ascent through the executive ranks has been swift. She helped to develop "Judging Amy," shepherded the cult favorite "Roswell" from its inception, and served as the current series exec on "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" during its final season. She was instrumental in the studio's outstanding drama development this year, developing and landing "Tru Calling" and the critically acclaimed "Wonderfalls" on the FBC schedule.
"Jane is one of the sharpest executives in this business and her reputation in the community is sterling," commented Newman. "In addition to having outstanding taste in writers and a terrific grasp of the process, she's innovative and smart and always a step ahead of her competitors. Even more significantly, writers adore her and if there's anyone who can inspire them to help reenergize this business both creatively and economically, it's Jane."
"Twentieth Century Fox Television has taken an important step toward reinventing the TV production model," said FOX Entertainment President Gail Berman. "We are committed to Gary and Dana's vision of a new, and necessary, way to do business. We're working with Jane to get fox 21 off the ground, because this new initiative's success is vital to our mutual future success."
"Dana, Gary & Jane are phenomenal executives, and we consider their decision to create fox 21 and to supply FX a strong vote of confidence in the quality and value of cable programming," said FX President of Entertainment John Landgraf. "FX has succeeded by giving our creators more freedom to innovate, and we welcome fox 21's partnership with us in this endeavor. We can't wait to get to work with Jane and her team, and are sure that they are destined to become not only one of our top suppliers, but one of the top suppliers industry wide in this exciting new segment of the television programming business."
Commented Leisner, "I'm very excited to be embarking on this adventure and am so grateful to Dana and Gary for this incredible vote of confidence. This is an amazing opportunity to reinvent television and how shows are made, and if we do it right, it will be a place that both creators and networks will find extremely enticing.
"I trust creators, and I know the kinds of frustrations that working within the traditional studio model can bring. What this new company can offer is a fun creative space where writers can feel free to pitch just about anything- even the stuff that scares them. I can offer them more freedom, less interference, greater responsibility, and greater financial rewards in success. I know those things are of real value to writers."
fox 21 will aim to develop as many as twenty projects in its first year across all genres, from traditional scripted dramas and situation comedies to alternative and reality shows. Leisner will assemble a small creative team to be announced shortly. She will report to Twentieth Century Fox Television Presidents Newman and Walden.
Headquartered in offices on the West Side of Los Angeles, fox 21's physical space will be specifically tailored to the laboratory atmosphere Leisner intends to foster. The building's location, additional personnel, and initial writer deals will be announced shortly