After calling Disney-owned ABC Studios home for the last three years, Cougar Town, Scrubs, and Spin City creator Bill Lawrence may be about to make a big jump: Vulture hears the comedy mogul is in substantive conversations with industry powerhouse Warner Bros. Television about signing a major production deal with the studio, which boasts countless hits (it produces everything from The Big Bang Theory to Gossip Girl) and a murderer’s row of showrunner superstars (including Jerry Bruckheimer, Chuck Lorre, Josh Schwartz, and David E. Kelley.) Nothing’s official yet, and there’s always a chance talks with Warner could fall apart. So why would Lawrence leave the Disney fold anyway, particularly when Cougar Town is still in its (relative) infancy at sister network ABC?
Industry insiders speculate Lawrence might simply want to be able to create shows for a broad range of broadcast (and possibly cable) networks, and Warner Bros. is in business with just about every network in TV land. By contrast, ABC Studios (like its counterparts at NBC and CBS) focuses most of its energies creating content for its in-house sibling and tries to channel the best efforts of big producers such as Lawrence directly to the Alphabet network. Nobody from Warner or Team Lawrence was talking late Wednesday, but Cougar Town fans shouldn’t be concerned: Even if Lawrence leaves ABC Studios, he’ll almost certainly remained involved in the production of the Courteney Cox series. Sadly, the show’s beloved Big Joe remains six feet under.