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Frog serious about laffers

'Comedy is a priority,' sez Ent. prez Daniels

Moving quickly to fill its fall 2001 development roster, the WB has inked put pilot deals with scribes Chris Thompson (“Action”) and Matthew Carlson (“The Wonder Years.”)

Both pilots will be produced through Columbia TriStar Television.

Pacts, confirmed by WB Entertainment prexy Susanne Daniels and CTTV network production topper Helene Michaels, represent the Frog’s continuing effort to beef up its comedy credentials — as well as the net’s traditional desire to get a head start on development.

Including several previously announced deals and some holdovers from last season, the WB has now identified roughly one-third of its 2001-02 contenders.

WB Entertainment president Susanne Daniels said the web has not budged from its goal of developing more successful laffers.

“I mean it, and in a big way: Comedy is a priority,” she told Daily Variety.

Daniels thinks the Frog is already off to a good start with the just-launched toon “Baby Blues” and upcoming sitcoms from Bruce Helford (“Nikki”) and Darren Star (“Grosse Point.”) Net also has the sketch comedy show “Hype” bowing this fall.

“It’s given us a cachet and a momentum in comedy that we’re trying to take advantage of right now,” she said, referring to the just-inked deals with Carlson and Thompson.

The Carlson project, tentatively titled “Gene Pool,” is about a fun-loving scientist who juggles work at a lab with raising his daughter. Carlson has already written the pilot script, and production on the pilot could begin as early as this fall.

“It’s really well-written and extremely funny,” said Daniels. “It’s smart and very different.”

Thompson’s greenlit pilot, sold based on a pitch, is a sort of modern day “Romeo and Juliet” story about a blue collar man and a wealthy woman who meet and fall in love.

“I think Chris could really knock it out of the park with this one,” Daniels said. “This was a really wonderful pitch.”

In addition to the Carlson and Thompson pilots, the WB previously made pilot commitments to “American Pie’s” Chris and Paul Weitz (Daily Variety, Aug. 12, 1999), Alexa Junge (“Friends”) and Bill Bellamy. Jamie Foxx is also developing a sketch comedy show for the net.

Carlson most recently created and exec produced the NBC toon laffer “God, the Devil and Bob.” He also created the over-the-top 1996-98 Peacock comedy “Men Behaving Badly” and the 1996 Molly Ringwald starrer “Townies.” He spent four seasons working on the critically-hailed ABC half-hour “The Wonder Years,” serving as co-exec producer.

Thompson created and exec-produced two series last season: Fox’s controversial but short-lived Hollywood satire “Action” and the CBS domestic laffer “Ladies Man.” Latter skein has been ordered as a midseason replacement by the Eye.

In addition to exec producing the 1980 Tom Hanks laffer “Bosom Buddies,” Thompson also created and exec produced the Tea Leoni vehicle “The Naked Truth,” which aired on both ABC and NBC.

Carlson is repped by CAA. Thompson is repped by the Rob Rothman Agency.

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