Producer-director Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) has a formed a new media company that will create “television-style programming for alternative distribution.” The new company, Jackson Bites (named after Liman’s 11-year-old sheep dog), has already secured an agreement with the Writers Guild of America, enabling union members to write, develop, and create programming for distribution on the Internet, set-top boxes, cell phones and other wireless devices, and via direct deals with satellite networks and cable companies. The deal with the WGA is described as being similar to the writers’ deals with United Artists, Worldwide Pants, the Weinstein Company, MRC, and Spyglass Entertainment.
“If the last strike is best remembered for the studios attempting to show they could create programming without writers, this could be the strike where the writers show they can do it without the studios,” Liman said via a statement. “We are at a moment of opportunity in television where we have gone from three networks to six, and from a handful of channels to a thousand and YouTube. In that environment, what matters is compelling programming –- and compelling programming starts with the writer. Jackson Bites will afford writers the opportunity to create content that will be seen and enjoyed by audiences with or without the involvement of the television networks.”
Liman will not direct or produce any of Jackson Bites’ content. His next directorial project, a film adaptation of Steven Gould’s sci-fi novel Jumper, is set for release next month.