- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2009

Fox deal for Stiller

Fox has gone on a pilot-ordering binge, greenlighting seven projects that will contend for spots in the network’s lineup next season.

The four comedies and three dramas include projects from Ben Stiller and “Friday Night Lights” writer-producer and, as previously reported, a comic-book adaptation produced by Joseph “McG” McGinty They join the previously ordered dramedy “Eva Adams” and the comedy “Boldly Going Nowhere,” which is being reworked, on the pilot roster.

The Stiller comedy is called “The Station” and centers on a group of CIA officers in South America, the show biz trade papers report. The officers’ mission is to bring a new dictator to power. Kevin Napier wrote the script, and Mr. Stiller, who’s an executive producer, may also direct the pilot.

The other comedies include “Two Dollar Beer,” about of a working-class couple in Detroit and their circle of friends. It comes from writer-producer Mike Binder, known for “The Mind of the Married Man” and “Reign Over Me.”

“Walorsky” centers on an ex-cop who now works as a mall security guard and is forced to pay more attention to the job when he’s assigned a dim new partner. Alessandro Tanaka and Brian Gatewood wrote the script, and the trades note that the network made the decision to greenlight the pilot before box-office returns made “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” the No. 1 movie in America for the past two weekends.

The last comedy is called “Sons of Tucson” and follows three brothers who hire a con man to act as their father while their wealthy real dad is in prison. Greg Bratman and Tommy Dewey wrote the script, and former “Malcolm in the Middle” star Justin Berfield is one of the exec producers.

The drama orders include an untitled project from “Friday Night Lights” writer-producer David Hudgins. It follows a team of “past-life investigators” who delve into clients’ previous incarnations to fix problems in this life.

Fox has also ordered the McG-produced “Human Target,” based on the DC/Vertigo comic book, and “Maggie Hill,” about a surgeon dealing with the onset of schizophrenia. Both pilots were reported to be on the verge of pickups last week.

New on Comcast

Retirement Living TV has struck a carriage deal with the nation’s largest cable operator, Comcast.

Comcast will carry the channel, targeted to adults 50 and-up, on its digital tie, Broadcastingcable.com reportsr.

“Comcast is proud to support Americans 50-plus with the kind of targeted programs that only RLTV offers,” said Matt Bond, Comcast executive vice president.

The network carries programming on health, finance, leisure, news and other subjects targeted to the AARP crowd, including two shows produced by AARP. In November, it announced it was partnering with NBC on its Daily Cafe program, which is being produced out of NBC’s facilities in Washington.

Mystery for ABC

The ABC network has given the go-ahead to a two-hour pilot from the “Happy Town” project, written by “October Road” creators Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In the vein of ABC’s cult drama “Twin Peaks,” “Happy Town” is a mystery set in the hamlet of Happy Town, which had enjoyed a seven-year peace after a series of kidnappings until it is hit by another crime.

The drama, written on spec, had enjoyed strong buzz since the script was delivered to the studio in recent weeks.

ABC Studios, where Messrs. Appelbaum, Nemec and Rosenberg have an overall deal, is producing the project. The three writers are also executive producers of the series.

They also created and are executive producers of the ABC/ABC Studios freshman drama “Life on Mars” and are producing the ABC Family/ABC Studios/Alloy series “Samurai Girl.”

• Compiled by Denise Yourse from wire and Web reports

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