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Boutique Studio Loses Key Partner

After 20 years at Carsey-Werner, Caryn Mandabach says she is leaving to start her own production company.

August 19, 2004|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

Caryn Mandabach, the often overshadowed partner in independent TV production studio Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, said Wednesday that she was leaving her home of 20 years to start her own company.

Although Mandabach played a key role in the studio's success -- she was the company's first employee, its longtime president and a line producer on "The Cosby Show" -- she didn't become a named partner until 2001. Financial details of the breakup were not disclosed.

Mandabach's departure caps a tumultuous year for the private firm based in Studio City. It bet big last fall with three new comedies for the networks, but none survived for a second season. This year, the company put itself on the block for about $850 million, according to sources, but got few nibbles. Then, two weeks ago, Carsey-Werner announced that it was no longer for sale.

Mandabach said she wasn't leaving because of any tension or creative differences with her partners or the aborted sale. She said she simply wanted to return to her roots as a "scrappy, solo operator."

"There's more for me to accomplish," Mandabach said. "I just felt like now is the time for me to see what I have in me. This is all about me."

The boutique studio has witnessed its market shrivel because of media consolidation. These days, TV networks are more likely to turn to their sister studios to produce their shows so they can retain ownership interest. Besides Carsey-Werner, the only other major independent TV studio is Sony Pictures Television.

Mandabach was one of the creative forces behind such signature Carsey-Werner shows as "Roseanne," "Cybill," "3rd Rock From the Sun," "Grace Under Fire" and "That '70s Show," which has become a hit for Fox Broadcasting Co.

The company will revert to its original name: Carsey-Werner Co., with the company's founders, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner, staying on.

In addition to television, Mandabach said she also would like to produce movies for Carsey-Werner's CWM Films, which has a development deal with Paramount Pictures.

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