BY LESLEY GOLDBERG | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
The captain of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise for the studio has extended his relationship with ViacomCBS through 2026.
Following a year-plus of negotiating, Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman has extended his overall deal with producers CBS Studios.
Kurtzman has been with the studio for more than a decade. In 2018, Kurtzman and his Secret Hideout inked a $25 million overall deal extension with CBS Studios. The five-year deal was to have taken him through 2023. Sources say Kurtzman — who oversees five (and counting) Star Trek shows, among others, for the studio — asked to renegotiate his deal more than a year ago after seeing the overall deals market explode.
Before the pandemic, similarly prolific writer-producers like Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, Dick Wolf, Mike Schur and the Westworld and Stranger Things creators scored nine-figure overall deals with both streamers and traditional studios. Kurtzman now joins the echelon of television’s most valued producers as his work on Star Trek as well as other premium content like Showtime’s The Comey Rule and the upcoming The Man Who Fell to Earth makes him the most important deal for CBS Studios.
The new deal renegotiates the remaining two years on the first pact and adds another three years to keep Kurtzman and his Secret Hideout at the studio through 2026. Secret Hideout will also expand its staff to meet its growing slate of shows and development. Heather Kadin continues to lead the production company with Kurtzman, senior vp Aaron Baiers and director of development Robyn Johnson.
Keeping Kurtzman was a top priority for CBS Studios and ViacomCBS considering he oversees its incredibly valuable Star Trek franchise. The company turned to Kurtzman to launch Star Trek: Discovery, which was the first new live-action show in the franchise in years when it was used to help the company enter the streaming universe with the creation of CBS All Access. Following the re-merging of CBS with Viacom, the platform is now called Paramount+ and is designed to reflect offerings from across the company’s vast entertainment portfolio, with Star Trek remaining at its centerpiece.
“Extending our valuable partnership with the brilliant Alex Kurtzman and Secret Hideout has been a top priority for CBS and Paramount+,” said CBS CEO George Cheeks. “Alex’s vision and leadership of the Star Trek franchise and his ability to create artistic and commercial series across all platforms put him in a special class of creative talent. His substantial accomplishments at CBS and the spirit of collaboration we enjoy with his team are greatly valued and we are excited to build on his already impressive slate far into the future.”
Kurtzman exec produces all five Star Trek shows, including Discovery, the Patrick Stewart-led Picard, animated comedy Lower Decks, kids-focused series Prodigy (for Nickelodeon) and the upcoming Strange New Worlds. Other spinoffs from the Star Trek franchise are also in development, including Section 31 starring Michelle Yeoh. The reinvigoration of the Star Trek world for television has also spread to other digital content, including podcasts, global products, gaming, collectibles, publishing and other various revenue streams that ultimately help bolster ViacomCBS’ bottom line.
“Alex and Secret Hideout have been extraordinary partners who, through their prolific output of high-quality shows, have allowed our studio to grow exponentially,” said CBS Studios president David Stapf. “Alex’s vision and breadth of interest is unmatched as he and his team have re-ignited the Star Trek franchise with five (and counting) brilliantly unique series, while at the same time creating long-running hit series for both the Network and premium spaces. As an artist, Alex does it all. Not only is he a visionary who creates worlds, he has that rare skill of being able to write, direct, produce and inspire those who work with him to be the best version of themselves. We are so grateful to be extending our relationship together.”
Beyond the Trek universe, Kurtzman is currently in London directing the Paramount+-turned-Showtime drama The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. Kurtzman co-created the update of the Walter Tervis novel with friend and frequent collaborator Jenny Lumet, with whom he’s also doing Showtime’s Blackbird: Lena Horne and America. (That series is based on the life of Lumet’s grandmother.) Additionally, Secret Hideout is also readying Scarface and the Untouchable for Showtime. Kurtzman also oversaw development of Showtime’s The Comey Rule and is readying Kavalier and Clay alongside author Michael Chabon. (Kurtzman and Lumet’s Silence of the Lambs offshoot Clarice remains in limbo as dealmaking has stalled for its planned move from CBS to Paramount+.) On the development front, Secret Hideout is also prepping New York Times at Special Bargain Rates, which is based on a Stephen King short story and has also optioned multiple books, including The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind.
“CBS Studios has been my home for over a decade because the incomparable David Stapf always finds a way to demonstrate his decency and creative passion, not just for the work we do, but for the many people who do it,” Kurtzman said. “In David Nevins [who now oversees Paramount+ and Showtime], I’ve found a rare breed executive with auteur taste and the guts to take chances, who’s encouraged us to create premium streaming and cable that pushes boundaries. And over the last year, I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of being eyewitness to the steady leadership George Cheeks has brought to CBS. He’s guided Secret Hideout, and me personally, with thoughtful care and strategic brilliance, as the rules of our business grow and change daily. As Secret Hideout expands its footprint across ViacomCBS, I can imagine no greater partners, and I’m so excited to tell more stories together for years to come.”
Secret Hideout is repped by CAA and attorney Michael Gendler.
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