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Marlens, Black back off from ‘Friends’

Producers Neal Marlens & Carol Black are giving up their day-to-day role on Disney TV’s “These Friends of Mine,” a midseason ABC sitcom starring comic Ellen DeGeneres.

The studio confirmed the pair would recede to a consulting arrangement on the series, while retaining their exec producer-creator titles.

David Rosenthal, the show’s co-creator and a former writer on “Anything but Love,” has been upped from supervising producer to co-exec producer to oversee the show.

Through a spokesman, Marlens said the couple had intended to scale back its involvement with the sitcom once its initial 13-episode order was completed, but accelerated those plans due to personal reasons. The parties denied reports of differences between the producers and studio.

Six installments have been completed on “These Friends,” expected to premiere on the Alphabet web this spring.

Best known for creating ABC’s “The Wonder Years,” Marlens & Black subsequently left that show and signed a multimillion-dollar overall deal with Disney. The pact has yielded just one short-lived series, the DeLane Matthews comedy “Laurie Hill,” which premiered in fall ’92. Rosenthal was also a writer on that series.

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