In their first business deal together since they left Paramount, Barry Diller and Michael D. Eisner said Thursday that a new sitcom based on the hit movie, "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," will be made as the first prime-time series for the fourth TV network that the new Fox Broadcasting Co. hopes to create.
Fox on Tuesday announced its first step into regularly scheduled programming for the fledgling network with the signing of Joan Rivers, formerly the regular substitute host of NBC's "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," to star in a competing late-night show for Fox.
Diller, chairman of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox Inc., parent company of Fox Broadcasting, and Eisner, chairman of the Walt Disney Co., said in a joint statement that the TV version of "Down and Out" has a 13-week commitment. The show will be produced by Touchstone Television, a Disney subsidiary.
A spokesman said that no cast, producer, staff or production start date has been set yet for the new series, which has been licensed by Fox Broadcasting. Telecasts of the program are to begin next March.
In their joint statement, Diller and Eisner said that there may be more such Fox Broadcasting-Disney projects in store.
"This new relationship between FBC and Touchstone will mark the beginning of what we hope will be many projects," they said. "We (the two executives) have been associates for most of our entire professional careers and look forward to working on this and other projects."
"We support Fox's plan for a national television service," Eisner added, calling it "a bold and creative venture that we heartily endorse."
The film version of "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," released in January and starring Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler, has to date grossed $56,640,000, making it the year's highest-grossing film so far, the spokesman for Diller and Eisner said.