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Fox eyes Hewitt spinoff

Thesp taking producing credit

Jennifer Love Hewitt is close to a deal with Fox Broadcasting Co. to star in a spinoff of “Party of Five” from Columbia TriStar TV and “Party” creators Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman.

Hewitt has already inked a deal with Columbia TriStar TV, and sources familiar with the deal say the actress will receive a $1.3 million guarantee regardless of whether the show goes forward.

Hewitt also gets a producer credit on the series, some approval over the network deal and a theatrical component. The salary for all of her services (plus agenting fees) is expected to total substantially more than $100,000 per episode, according to sources familiar with the deal.

If the Fox pact comes through as planned, the spinoff will be the second Keyser-Lippman drama in the works for fall 1999. The producing duo also just signed a deal with CBS to create a police/family drama for next fall (Daily Variety, Sept. 3).

On the new Fox series, Hewitt will play the same character she plays on “Party of Five,” Sarah Reeves. The new series will take Sarah, who was adopted, out of San Francisco, as she goes on a quest to find her birth parents.

“Party of Five” has been renewed for the next two seasons, and Hewitt will leave the show after this season to star in her new series. “She’ll play a girl in search of herself,” said Lippman.

Hewitt was chosen to be the center of the spinoff over the other main characters because producers did not want to break up the Salinger family at the center of “Party of Five.”

“Here’s a character without any real family, and we felt Hewitt could carry her own show,” Lippman said. “She has tremendous charm, and she works with huge mouthfuls of dialogue.”

Aside from “Party of Five,” Hewitt has a budding feature career, acting in such movies as “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Can’t Hardly Wait.” She has also been tapped to star as Audrey Hepburn in a telefilm for ABC.

Gayle Nachlis at the William Morris Agent and attorney Bob Wallerstein repped Hewitt in the deal.

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