Producers Part with NBC's 'Philanthropist'

NBC's drama "The Philanthropist," which has a place on the 2008-09 schedule but no lead, is now looking for someone to run the show as well.

Emmy winner Tom Fontana, who wrote the pilot script for the series, and partner Barry Levinson, have left the series. The usual "creative differences" are to blame, the showbiz trade papers report.

Not quite as usual: We have an inkling as to what said differences actually are. "The Philanthropist" is about a billionaire who suffers a personal tragedy and then decides to use his money and power to help people in need, by any means necessary.

Fontana, whose resume includes writing Emmys for "St. Elsewhere" and "Homicide," and his staff had turned in scripts that had the lead character tackling such problems as drug addiction and immigration. NBC, however, is looking for something with a more escapist tone and finally decided to make a change at the top. The split was reportedly an amicable one.

Producer Charlie Corwin ("The Squid and the Whale"), who brought the idea to Fontana and Levinson, will remain as an executive producer.

In addition to looking for a showrunner, "The Philanthropist" continues its search for a lead actor. Despite all that, the show remains on the NBC schedule for now: It's scheduled to air at 10 p.m. ET Mondays starting in early 2009.

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