Kelley to sign multi-mln dollar deal

LOS ANGELES ( - David E. Kelley, producer of this year's Emmy-winning comedy ("Ally McBeal") and drama ("The Practice"), is close to signing a five-year deal with Fox Broadcasting Company and 20th Century Fox Television which could be the most lucrative contract ever for a show creator. The deal, according to Daily Variety, is comparable to the $50 million upfront deal producer Steven Bochco recently signed, but the Kelley deal includes backend guarantees that are potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This pushes the TV heavyweight into the league of film producers like Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, who secure percentages of their film grosses as part of their payouts.

Under the new contract, which has been in the works for months, Kelley will create first-look series for Fox Television, with the intention of scheduling four projects to air in the next five years. This will be advantageous to the Fox network, which will soon be replacing its aging shows like "The X-Files," "Party of Five" and "Beverly Hills 90210."