Imagine taps into big names for ABC

Imagine Television — riding high on its grand slam last season with the WB’s “Felicity,” Fox’s “The Pjs” and ABC’s “Sports Night” — has two hot development prospects set up at ABC with pilot commitments for the 2000-01 season.

Helmer Mimi Leder and scribe Kario Salem are tackling a drama set at a 24-hour TV news network, while showbiz vet Larry Gelbart is returning to the weekly series arena to develop a family-oriented comedy with helmer Thomas Schlamme.

“Brian, Ron and I are thrilled to be in business with these extraordinary projects,” said Tony Krantz, Imagine TV co-chairman and CEO, referring to Imagine partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. “They involve fresh voices for television, and hopefully they will be shows of the highest quality.”

Leder and Salem, both of whom are repped by Creative Artists Agency, will serve as exec producers on the ensemble drama set in the hard-driving world of a CNN-esque network.

The project marks Leder’s first stab at developing an original TV series. She made her mark as a helmer-producer of NBC’s “ER” before seguing to directing the action-adventure pics “The Peacemaker” and “Deep Impact.”

Salem won an Emmy last year for penning the HBO telepic “Don King: Only in America,” and she earned another writing nomination this year for HBO’s “The Rat Pack.”

The Gelbart/Schlamme project is described as a multi-generation family comedy revolving around a strong-willed patriarch. It’s planned as a single-camera vehicle much in the vein of “Sports Night,” for which Schlamme just picked up the Emmy honor for comedy series directing.

Gelbart’s TV credits range from the enduring 1972-1983 series “MASH” to the more recent HBO telepics “Barbarians at the Gate” and “Weapons of Mass Destraction.” Gelbart is repped by CAA, while Schlamme is repped by Endeavor.

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