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THE PLAYER, SMALL SCREEN

We know from “The Player” that the movie crowd can be pretty ruthless, but how about the TV crowd? Gary Rosen, writer for such shows as “Beverly Hills, 90210” and a co-producer of Don Johnson’s new series for Rysher and CBS, is shopping “Hacks, ” a low-budget feature he’ll write and produce that will boast numerous TV writers playing themselves in a murder-mystery revolving around the creation of a new TV series.

“It’s a one-night event, where these four TV writers are on the way to their weekly card game. They’re all aware that the host, a producer, just got a 22-episode commitment for a new show, and they all try to schmooze him to get jobs,” said Rosen. “They don’t realize the guy is close to having a nervous breakdown, but even after they do realize, they still keep working him.”

When the producer steps away from the game for a minute, he glimpses a “Rear Window”-like situation in which he thinks a murder is being committed. He returns and tells the writers, who think he’s testing them, and they conjure up different scenarios of what really happened, as they try to get to the bottom of the alleged crime.

The storyline grew out of a card game Rosen attended where the writers dissected the Nicole Simpson murder and spun their own theories.

At a reading recently, Kevin Spacey played the producer, with “Wings” star Steven Webber reading another role; Rosanna Arquette has said she’ll play a role. The writers at the reading, who played, well, writers, were Ted Mann, producer of “NYPD Blue” and head of the production team on the Johnson show; “Roseanne” writer-producer Dusty Kay and Merrill Markoe.

Others such as “The Mighty Ducks” scribe Steve Brill are expected to come aboard. Rosen said t he financing for the film, about $2 million, should be raised soon. Right now, there’s no distributor.

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