Fox looks to control TV costs with new division

MUMBAI: This is an initiative that seeks to infuses fresh doses of energy and creativity into American television. Even as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) tries to sort out its issues with film and television producers Rupert Murdoch's Fox has announced that it will create a new production arm Fox 21.

The boutique studio division launches early next month with the aim of controlling the escalating costs of TV production by rethinking the economics of making shows

Fox 21 will aim to service all the networks and not just its parent. Having said that the venture has already secured major programming pledges from its parent Fox Broadcasting Company and the FX cable network.

The division has set itself the aim of helping writers realise what it has termed as passion projects. Of course there are things that one could read into this including the fact that writers won't worry too much about benefits and a higher salary if they are personally committed to making that particular script come alive.

Fox 21 is try to do for television what Miramax has done for film. By this what one means is taking on ideas that might be considered too personal or unconventional for the other television production houses while keeping a tight leash on finances.

Fox 21's model is Murdoch's independent film division Fox Searchlight. That company has made and distributed award winning films in the past which have also proved financially viable.

Jane Leisner will lead the division as senior VP. Leisner joined Fox's drama department in 1997. She helped develop Judging Amy. In India the show is airing on Hallmark. She also shepherded Roswell which airs on Star World.

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