Pilot plans percolate

Word of additional network pilot deals is starting to circulate, with high-profile projects including a sitcom from “Cheers” trio Charles-Burrows-Charles and an animated series based on “Life in Hell,” the comic strip by “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening.

In addition, NBC confirmed that its ill-fated in-house series “The Eligible Dentist,” to star Gene Wilder, has been scrubbed after two false starts. Wilder is developing a new sitcom vehicle, “Dadoo,” through Warner Bros. TV.

Other projects include a new CBS series for Dudley Moore, who struck out last year with theshort-lived “Dudley,” this time from Witt-Thomas Prods.; “The Last Days of Russell,” an ABC family drama from filmmakers Reginald and Warrington Hudlin under their new overall pact with Twentieth TV; and a Warner Bros. sitcom featuring former “Growing Pains” star Kirk Cameron as the surrogate father to three younger brothers, also at ABC, from “Family Matters” exec producers William Bickley and Michael Warren.

JoBeth Williams will star in “Gloria Vane,” from “Cheers” creators Glen Charles, Les Charles and Jim Burrows in association with Paramount.

The pilot, featuring Williams as a movie star in the 1930s, could fulfill one of the series commitments extended the producers during their “Cheers” run.

Wilder is developing a comedy in which he’d play a late-in-life father. NBC Prods., meanwhile, quietly pulled the plug on “Dentist” after numerous production problems, having removed producer David Seltzer from the show earlier this season after an over-budget pilot and vowing at the time that the show would nevertheless go forward for airing later this season.

CBS is toying with its own series about a late-in-life mom, “Never Too Late,” to feature Kate Jackson, who starred in the web’s pilot “Arly Hanks” last season. Janis Hirsch is developing that project.

Fox is developing the tentatively titled “Bongo”– based on Groening’s ill-tempered, underground “Life in Hell” strip — with the artist and Twentieth, which also produces “The Simpsons.” The project could fulfill a 13-episode commitment to Groening and is not connected to the other half of the current animated hit’s creative auspices, Gracie Films.

Another intriguing Fox concept is based on the feature “Doctor Dolittle,” recast as a family drama featuring the good doctor and his brood on weekly adventures. That hour is also through Twentieth.

CBS is developing what would be the first series from director Spike Lee, tentatively titled “Slimm’s Table,” as well as a Kushner-Locke Co. project for Howie Long, who only recently retired from the Los Angeles Raiders. Film producer Arnold Kopelson is also working on a cast-contingent NBC pilot, through Warner Bros., about a group of ex-Navy SEALs.

ABC’s in-house division, ABC Prods., also continues to actively solicit commitments from competing networks, with its “Peter Tolan Show” at CBS and the hour “Beat Police” still considered a contender at Fox, as noted.

Comic Richard Jeni, who headlined a pilot last year for Fox, is now at ABC in the Paramount sitcom “Platypus Man,” based on his one-man show and being developed by Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro.

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