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Kevin James Lands 10-90 Deal For New Sitcom

Annie Lloyd |
October 2, 2013 | 11:45 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Kevin James in his last TV role on "The King of Queens" (Twitter)
Kevin James in his last TV role on "The King of Queens" (Twitter)
Vulture reports how Kevin James has entered the “esteemed” club of actors who sign a 10-90 deal. If this phrase just sounds like a really skewed percentage, well, you’re not too far off.

A 10-90 deal is a TV production model where a show shoots 10 episodes without a pilot. If these episodes do well enough for their network’s rating standards, 90 more get to follow. This seems like a perfectly logical solution considering no show has ever suffered in quality the longer it’s been on air. Despite this cringe-inducing creative risk we cannot deny the business impetus for the decision: syndication requires one hundred episodes, so the model guarantees it will happen if the early episodes do well enough.

Debmar-Mercury, a media company owned by Lionsgate, has been responsible for the popularization of the deal. They made their first major 10-90 transaction with “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” the TBS sitcom that ran 254 episodes from 2006 to 2012. It wasn’t until Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management” did the notion become common knowledge, however (probably because people were shocked at Charlie Sheen getting a sitcom right after leaving “Two and a Half Men,” but then we all remembered he’s a successful white guy and our shock subsided).

Since then, several other sitcom veterans have landed 10-90 deals. George Lopez is working on the comedy “Saint George” and Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence have an unnamed sitcom. With both of these comedies in development with FX and “Anger Management” already airing, the channel seems poised to dominate the 10-90 field. NBC doesn’t want to let the slide, though, with negotiations happening to secure a deal with Roseanne Barr.

When Kevin James’ new comedy airs, it’ll be his first time at the head of a sitcom since 2007 when “The King of Queens” ended. He’s spent the years since then attempting to cultivate a feature film persona. Unfortunately for him, his films like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “The Zookeeper,” and “Here Comes the Boom,” either underperformed in the box office or failed to please critics (sometimes even both). TV must have seemed like a beacon of hope for the actor; a safe place he feels comfortable in.

If the show passes the 10-episode requirement, the next ninety will go through production in the subsequent two years. Such a time commitment will certainly keep Kevin James busy, so don’t expect a “Grown-Ups 3” any time in the near future.

Contact Staff Reporter Annie Lloyd here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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