Darren Star is poised to set up shop in a big way at Sony Pictures Television. Sources said Star is in the thick of negotiations on a rich three-year overall production pact that would call for Star--the out creator-executive producer of such hits as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Sex and the City--to set up a production banner on the lot, with Sony picking up the overhead for at least one dedicated development executive.
The Star deal is a surprising move for Sony, which significantly scaled back its spending on TV writer-producer deals more than two years ago as part of a major strategic shift in its approach to the prime-time series business. Industry sources said Sony's top TV brass view the chance to be in business with Star as a good opportunistic move to jump-start its prime-time development efforts, but sources also cautioned that the courtship of Star doesn't mean that the studio is looking to further beef up its writer roster anytime soon.
Star already has a project in development through Sony at CBS that he has committed to writing. He also is executive-producing a half-hour project for Fox through New Line and 20th Century Fox TV about posh New York restaurants, based on the book Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Star's reps declined comment, as did a spokeswoman for Sony Pictures TV.