Gail Berman forms production company with Fox Networks Group

Gail Berman back at Fox with new production company

Gail Berman, a veteran film and television industry executive, has formed a production partnership with the Fox Networks Group, a unit of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

The deal is a homecoming of sorts for Berman. She was president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting from 2000 to 2005, a time of tremendous success for the network. Hit programs developed on Berman's watch included "24," "House" and "American Idol."

Berman's new company, the Jackal Group, will develop programming for all of 21st Century Fox's television platforms, including Fox Broadcasting and cable channels FX, FXX, National Geographic and Fox's international channels. Jackal Group will not be restricted from developing for networks that are not owned by 21st Century Fox. Berman will serve as chairman and chief executive of the company and will have an ownership stake in it along with Fox Networks Group.

"This new joint-venture will provide Fox Networks Group with yet another source for quality programming," said Peter Rice, the unit's chairman and chief executive. Rice and Fox Networks Group President Randy Freer will serve on Jackal's board of directors.

Known for having strong creative chops, Berman started her career in theater and co-produced the original production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." She first found success in television has head of Sandollar Television, which produced the TV version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She also served as head of New Regency Productions. Regency made the hit "Malcolm in the Middle," which helped actor Bryan Cranston become a household name. He would go on to star in the AMC drama "Breaking Bad."

After leaving Fox in 2005, Berman became president of Paramount Pictures for two years.

Most recently, Berman was a partner in BermanBraun, a production company she co-founded with Lloyd Braun, a former top executive at Walt Disney Co. Berman left that partnership in February and, two days later, Fox's Rice called looking to make a deal.

"This was the ideal opportunity," Berman said, adding that Fox has "amazing platforms" to develop content.

There had been speculation that Berman would return to Fox Broadcasting in her previous role as head of entertainment. That position has been open since Kevin Reilly stepped down at the end of May.

The other name most often mentioned for that position is Dana Walden, the co-chairman of 20th Century Fox Television studio.

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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