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Couch trip for Peacock

Reiner eyes return to TV with NBC comedy

NBC is turning to Rob Reiner for some comic therapy.

Peacock has made a put pilot commitment to — and OK’d the hiring of a casting director for — an untitled half-hour family comedy from Universal Network Television. Show marks Reiner’s first serious foray into series television in more than a decade.

Reiner is teaming with U-based scribes Dan and Sue Paige (“Once and Again”) for the skein, which will mix scripted comedy with improv elements similar to those used in Reiner’s classic pic “This Is Spinal Tap.”

The Paiges will create, write and exec produce the pilot, with Reiner onboard to direct and exec produce. Alan Greisman, Reiner’s production partner, also will exec produce.

Skein will focus on a newlywed couple who are both shrinks. The two end up moving in with the husband’s family, comprised of more psychiatrists and other eclectic characters.

Or, as NBC development prexy Kevin Reilly put it, ” It’s about a family of shrinks who are kookier than their patients.

“It’s not any secret that so much half-hour television is stale, stale, stale,” Reilly added. “The whole attempt with this show is to play with the form a bit. We’re not reconceiving (the sitcom), but this show will be much more of a collaboration between the actors and the writers and director.”

Reiner said he was looking forward to returning to the medium that first gave him success with “All in the Family.”

“TV has always been very good to me, and I can’t wait to get back in the ring,” he said.

Universal TV topper David Kissinger said casting on the project is key for Reiner, which is why it was important to get NBC to take the unusual step of hiring a casting director so early in the process.

“Rob really believes that this show hinges on finding actors to play the young couple who can do this style of comedy,” Kissinger said. “If we can’t, it’s not worth doing. And one of the things that’s exciting about making this deal at NBC (which will soon own U) is that they’ve got a number of talent deals with people we think would be great candidates for this.”

NBC has talent development deals with Jennifer Coolidge, Jeff Goldblum, Tina Fey and several other thesps with improv chops.

While the NBC project will have elements of “Spinal Tap,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Christopher Guest’s mockumentary features, Kissinger said the goal is “to do a mainstream broadcast series that is a family show, but with a style that fans of ‘Curb’ and those movies will find entertaining.”

Skein will be shot on multiple cameras in front of a studio aud while also incorporating some single-camera shooting elements.

Reiner’s last major TV gig as a creative exec producer was the short-lived 1991 CBS half-hour “Morton & Hayes,” a series within a series that had Reiner introducing fake footage of a made-up comedy team a la Abbott & Costello.

The Paiges have had an overall deal at Universal since 2002. In addition to co-exec producing ABC’s “Once and Again,” the duo created and were supervising producers of the WB’s “Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane.”

Deal gives U its seventh put pilot commitment for the 2004-05 season.

Project was packaged by WMA, which reps Reiner and the Paiges and first brought the Paiges’ idea to the attention of Reiner.

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