Brit Hit Set For Date In States

Don’t hold your breath waiting to hear from England’s latest comic genius. Rowan Atkinson is keeping Brits in stitches without saying a word.

A sitcom star on British TV for most of the 1980s, the 36-year-old Atkinson has created a calamity-prone oddball, Mr. Bean, whose nearly silent exploits fill up half-hour shows on ITV.

“One never wants to compare people to Charlie Chaplin, but it’s Chaplinesque,” points out Peter Bennett-Jones, chairman of Tiger Television and Atkinson’s agent.

Deals with HBO, Fox

“I don’t see anything in America that faintly resembles this program,” says Roger Miron, sales director for Thames Intl. Television. “As soon as we announce that Mr. Bean’s coming, we know that we’re going to get a damn good audience.”

Only four of the shows have aired, and two of them, including 1991’s “The Curse of Mr. Bean,” have been nominated for International Emmy Awards in the popular-arts category.

It’s unlikely that Atkinson will remain a British secret for long. HBO has the rights to the Mr. Bean shows, and 20th Century Fox, which has shown two Mr. Bean shorts before several of its feature comedies in the States, has a Mr. Bean feature project in development.

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