Ousted producer returns to "Philanthropist" at NBC

Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:44am EST
 
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By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - TV producer Tom Fontana is returning to "The Philanthropist," the troubled NBC drama from which he was ousted in April.

In the latest change at the helm of the midseason entry, Fontana will replace David Eick, who was hired as executive producer/showrunner after Fontana's dismissal.

"Philanthropist" centers on a renegade billionaire (James Purefoy) who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need. During the filming of the pilot, Purefoy pulled a hamstring and is being evaluated by a doctor. His injury could lead to a delay in production.

Fontana had a high-profile fallout with NBC brass over the show's creative direction. The "Homicide" Life on the Street" veteran wanted to focus on such social issues as immigration, drug addiction and the use of children soldiers in parts of world, while the network was looking for a more escapist and fantastical approach. The parties said they had overcome their differences, but declined to specify.

The latest switch on "Philanthropist" is one of the first creative decisions made by Angela Bromstad, who was appointed NBC's president of scripted programing earlier this month. She is said to have begun working on Fontana's return in her previous capacity as head of NBC Universal's London-based TV production unit, where "Philanthropist" is based.

Fontana is bringing with him his writing team and will begin reworking upcoming scripts. Only the pilot of the series' 13-episode order has been shot. Peter Horton, who directed the pilot, will continue as an executive producer.

Eick, meanwhile, will now focus on "Caprica," the "Battlestar Galactica" prequel in development at Sci Fi Channel.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter