EXCLUSIVE: There is a change at the helm of Fox’s comedy department. Julia Franz is stepping down as SVP and Head of Comedy for Fox Entertainment after three years. She will be succeeded in the role by former 20th Television head of comedy development Cheryl Dolins, who will be based in Los Angeles, reporting to Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn.
The changeover had been in the works for a while and is not related to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier’s surprise exit on Thursday to join Roku.
I hear Franz’s exit from her executive role was a mutual decision. It comes at the end of her three-year contract. Franz will remain at the network in a consulting role, focusing on Fox’s newest show, Animal Control, the network’s first fully owned live-action comedy. She will serve as both network and studio creative on Animal Control until it wraps production in the spring. Franz also will continue to work on Fox’s comedy Welcome Tto Flatch throughout its upcoming second season.
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In her role as SVP Comedy Programming and Development for Fox Entertainment, Dolins will oversee the development and production of Fox’s live-action comedy slate. In addition to Welcome to Flatch, from executive producers Jenny Bicks and Paul Feig, and the upcoming Animal Control, the network’s current comedy roster includes returning series Call Me Kat, starring and executive produced by Mayim Bialik.
The hire reunites Dolins with Thorn who, in his role as 20th Century Fox Television EVP Development, recruited her to head the studio’s comedy department in 2016 after the two had first worked together at NBC. She departed the studio as part of the December 2020 Disney TV restructuring.
“Having worked with Cheryl on both the network and studio side throughout our careers, I’ve always been amazed by her ability to identify and shepherd an impressive array of premium comedies that have left their mark on the television landscape,” Thorn said. “I’m looking forward to once again working with her as we further build Fox Entertainment’s comedy portfolio.”
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During her 2016-20 tenure as SVP Comedy Development, at 20th Television, Dolins led the development of all studio comedies for streaming, broadcast and cable, including Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, The Wonder Years and Single Parents for ABC and Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. and the upcoming The Santa Clauses for Disney+.
Before joining 20th TV, Dolins was SVP Television Development and Production at Warner Bros. Television-based Alloy Entertainment, responsible for all development and current programming, including You, The CW’s The 100 and ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.
Prior to that, she headed New York-based production company Grand Central Entertainment and was previously SVP Comedy Development at NBC Entertainment, where she led the development of all NBC comedies including Emmy winners The Office, 30 Rock and My Name Is Earl. Dolins also held a number of development roles at Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Productions.
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In addition to Animal Control and Welcome to Flatch, during her three-year tenure as head of comedy at Fox, Franz and her team shepherded Call Me Kat, whose third season premieres September 29 following Welcome to Flatch, as well as Pivoting and The Moodys Christmas special.
“Julia has been a central player for us during these important, foundational years of Fox Entertainment,” Thorn said. “The crucial groundwork she has laid will serve us well in the coming years; and having her onboard with Animal Control and Welcome to Flatch helps ensure our continued path to success.”
Before joining Fox in 2019, Franz was Head of Development and Production for Spectrum Originals. She spent 15 years at Disney, where she served in a number of roles including five years as EVP, overseeing both comedy and drama development and current programming for ABC Signature predecessors ABC Studios and Touchstone Television. She also spent two years under an overall producing deal at Sony Pictures Television as a partner at the late Jamie Tarses’ FanFare.