NBC looks to keep Schwimmer after ''Friends.'' The network signs a development deal with the actor that would put him behind the camera

By Gary Susman
Updated April 10, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

David Schwimmer may be one of the highest-paid actors in TV history, but what he really wants to do is direct. Variety reports that he’s signed a deal with NBC that will keep him at the network after the series ends next spring, but only behind the camera. The two-year deal gives him his own production shingle, allowing him to develop, produce, and direct series for the network. He’ll also direct episodes of NBC shows that are not his own. NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker told Variety, ”I believe that there’s a lack of a next generation of great television directors in Hollywood right now, and I believe David is someone who will pop in that regard.”

Schwimmer’s directing credits include 10 episodes of ”Friends,” a straight-to-video movie for Miramax (”Since You’ve Been Gone”), and an upcoming play premiering this summer in Chicago, a stage version of Studs Terkel’s nonfiction book ”Race,” which Schwimmer helped adapt. He also pitched a series to NBC that ultimately never made it on the air. Of that show, Zucker said, ”On the production side, we developed a project with David that didn’t go forward, but he showed that he has the determination and intellectual ability to become a serious player in the television business in the years to come. Given our longstanding relationship, he’s someone I wanted to continue being in business with.”