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Country star Elliott blossoms

NBC, Peter Engel eye series for teen thrush

NBC is really diggin’ Alecia Elliott.

Peacock and Peter Engel Prods. have pacted on a deal to build a Saturday morning skein around the 17-year-old MCA Nashville recording artist.

Network has ordered 13 episodes of “Alecia,” in which Elliott will play a high school student who moves to Chicago and ends up forming a girl band with three new friends.

Elliott’s debut album, “I’m Diggin’ It,” was released in January, and MCA Nashville plans to use the series as a tool to build her career.

Indeed, it has reached an agreement with sister Universal Music Group label Island Def Jam to jointly promote and market Elliott to both country and pop audiences.

“Alecia” is being targeted for a fall 2001 premiere as part of the Peacock’s TNBC teen lineup, though NBC execs are exploring the possibility of launching the series next summer.

Pamela Pettler (“Clueless,” “One World”) will serve as showrunner.

MCA Nashville chairman Bruce Hinton said he and Island Def Jam topper Jim Caparro have just begun exploring ways to use the NBC skein to expand Elliott’s fan base. “We’re looking at this as a way to ensure a mass-appeal audience for her music in the broadest possible terms,” he said.

Caparro called Elliott “an artist without boundaries … We’re happy to partner with Bruce to expose Alecia to as many people as possible beyond her core Nashville base.”

Past skeins from Peter Engel Prods. — such as “Saved by the Bell” and “Hang Time” — have been teen-oriented sitcoms. “Alecia” is expected to mix both drama and comedy, along with a healthy dose of music.

NBC VP for Saturday morning and family programming Lee Gaither compares “Alecia” to HBO’s “Sex and the City” — albeit for a much younger demo.

“This show could have the same sort of appeal (as ‘Sex’), but for tween girls,” he said, calling Elliott a potential star who “could break out in every way.”

Peter Engel Prods. prexy Linda Mancuso said that she and Engel “fell for (Elliott) instantly.”

“She’s really intent and has a great edge as well as a good heart,” she said.

Mancuso added “Alecia” would primarily focus on Elliott and her three bandmates. Male characters will be worked into plots on a recurring basis.

“Alecia” will replace the company’s “Hang Time” on NBC’s Saturday sked. Latter skein begins its final season this fall.

Deal for “Alecia” was packaged by CAA.

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