CBS thinks young with drama team

Duo putting spin on cop series

CBS has inked a deal with “Party of Five” creators Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman to develop a one-hour drama series for the Eye web for fall 1999.

CBS has made a commitment to put a Keyser-Lippman series on the air next fall or pay a significant penalty. The deal is an important one for CBS, which is anxious to dispel its image as the network for seniors. Keyser and Lippman’s slow-building Fox hit, “Party of Five,” has strong appeal among teens and young adults.

“You can still be young and hip and come to CBS,” said CBS TV president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who points out that Keyser and Lippman join such youth-skewing producers as “Ned and Stacey’s” Michael Weithorn (working on this fall’s “King of Queens”) and “The Drew Carey Show’s” Robert Borden (running “The Brian Benben Show”).

“Chris and Amy are great storytellers, and they have proposed a show that will bring in younger viewers and will still be acceptable to our core audience,” added Moonves, who along with his senior vice president of drama series development, Nina Tassler, worked with Keyser and Lippman at Warner Bros. TV on the drama “Sisters.”

“We began our careers at Warner Bros. with Les and Nina,” Keyser said. “They gave us our start, and so this is a little like coming home to CBS.”

Unique spin

The new CBS drama will be Keyser and Lippman’s “unique spin on a cop drama,” and it will have a strong family and relationship element to it, Keyser said. The show will be produced by Columbia TriStar TV, which recently signed the duo to a new overall deal worth an estimated $12 million over three years.

“In much the same way ‘Party of Five’ gave us a new perspective on the family drama, this personalizes and offers a new perspective on the police drama,” said Sarah Timberman, senior vice president of drama at Columbia TriStar TV.

The deal with CBS does not preclude the producing pair from developing for other networks. In fact, Keyser and Lippman are actually close to a deal to create a new drama series for Fox, despite expressing some wariness at working with that web again after the abrupt cancellation of “Significant Others” just three episodes in (Daily Variety, July 20).

In addition to “Party of Five” and “Sisters,” Keyser and Lippman’s credits include writing for “L.A. Law” and “Equal Justice” and creating “Significant Others.”

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