Arthur Co. steps up pilot pace

Buoyed by its ABC reality series “FBI: The Untold Stories,” the Arthur Co. is developing a series of telefilms based on true stories as well as a number of pilots, including a sitcom that would be exec produced by Steve Martin.

“FBI” producer David Buelow is heading up the fact-based movie unit, and the company is already developing a TV movie about the aftermath of the “Silkwood” case with Buzz Hirsch, who exec produced the 1983 feature that starred Meryl Streep and Cher.

A partnership between topper Arthur Annecharico and MCA, the Arthur Co. has developed a reputation for making slick action fare at reasonable costs by using its own production facilities.

Past efforts include MCA TV’s syndicated revivals “Adam-12,””Dragnet” and “The Munsters Today.””That’s the most important arena we can play in now,” Annecharico said.

Over the last 18 months, however, the company has stepped up its development in a variety of areas under Annecharico, exec VP Craig Kellem and VP of development Marcia Zwilling, who joined the outfit in July 1991 from Lorimar TV.

Two pilots are being developed by producers on “FBI,” which returns to ABC’s Monday schedule tonight paired with “American Detective.”

Those projects are an untitled NBC drama about an actress who moonlights as a private eye, from exec producer Marvin Kupfer; and a half-hour drama from co-exec producer Fred McKnight about a former cop working in a public defender’s office.

The Arthur Co. also has CBS pilot script commitments on two one-hour dramas written by David Peckinpah and Tom Towler, respectively.

In the comedy area, the Steve Martin sitcom would be a spin-off of an episode of the anthology “George Burns Comedy Week,” which aired on CBS in 1985. The episode in question was titled “The Smiths” and dealt with four people forced to live together when the witness protection program runs out of money.

Other sitcoms in the works include “Count Your Blessings,” for The Family Channel, from writer-producer Scott Redman; “The Pittsburgh Lemmings,” from writer-exec producer Lisa Medway, about a mother who starts her own Little League baseball team after her two daughters are rejected; and an untitled comedy from writer-exec producer Alan Rucker about two guys running a daycare center.

In the reality genre, the company has a special/backdoor pilot at Fox Broadcasting Co., “Off Limits,” to be produced by Bruce Nash and Stan Brooks and take viewers places where they otherwise aren’t allowed to go.

The Arthur Co. also has a movie commitment from the USA cable network, which is half-owned by MCA.

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