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‘Monk’ bunch raises ‘Helen’

ABC close to picking up Touchstone script

Spurred by its hit USA Network series “Monk,” Mandeville Films has doubled up on TV development, including a comedy project based on the upcoming Garry Marshall-helmed feature “Raising Helen.”

ABC is close to picking up the script, which is set up at Touchstone TV. Mandeville is behind both the feature and TV version of “Raising Helen.” (Pic is due out in theaters next spring.)

Much like the film, which stars Kate Hudson, the Touchstone sitcom would revolve around a Manhattan socialite whose life changes when she’s forced to raise her recently deceased sister’s children.

Mandeville topper David Hoberman is on board to exec produce “Raising Helen,” alongside Marshall.

In addition, Marshall — whose TV legacy includes classic ABC laffers “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley” — is likely to direct the pilot should it be greenlit.

Hoberman said the script will pick up from the end of the movie, when Hudson’s character gets a job at a modeling agency in Manhattan while taking care of the kids.

“Once we completed the movie and showed it to the Touchstone people, they wanted to do it,” he said. “We were always interested in doing a TV version, almost from the beginning.”

“Raising Helen” is just one of several projects in development at Mandeville, which has a first-look deal with Touchstone TV.

Coming off two Emmy wins last month for “Monk” (which Mandeville produces alongside Touchstone TV), the shingle is in negotiations with USA to develop a project it considers a companion piece for the show.

Detective’s disguises

Based on an idea by Hoberman, the comedy/drama revolves around a Los Angeles detective who relies on impersonations and disguises to solve crimes. Hoberman and Howard Franklin (“AntiTrust”) will exec produce.

“It’s much more realistic than ‘Monk’ and also walks that comedy line like ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ or ‘Fletch,’ ” Hoberman said.

In addition, ABC has picked up the script “Like Father, Like Son,” from Alan Zweibel (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”).

Zweibel and Hoberman would exec produce the comedy, which centers on a divorced father who moves in with his estranged — and recently divorced — son.

Meanwhile, Mandeville is working on two blind scripts at Touchstone, including a procedural drama about Internet crime from Jeffrey Nachmanoff (“The Day After Tomorrow”) and another from scribe Julia Dahl (“The West Wing”).

Mandeville relaunched last year after Hoberman parted ways with Hyde Park Entertainment, where he was partnered for three years with Ashok Amritraj. He’s now in the midst of a first-look deal at Touchstone.

‘House’ among credits

Mandeville’s recent features include “Bringing Down the House”; Hoberman’s past credits include producing features “The Negotiator,” “George of the Jungle” and “Mr. Wrong.” Before becoming a producer, he served as Walt Disney Studios’ motion picture group prexy.

Hoberman said Mandeville — under president Todd Lieberman, who oversees development — is looking to reignite the comedy/drama, a form that has been recently missing in primetime (save for a few shows like “Ed”).

“You don’t see many comedy/dramas in television, and yet it is a staple in movies,” Hoberman said. “There’s a difference between a disease-of-the-week TV movie and a feature that does the same thing, but with humor. TV gets very earnest when it enters that territory. I hope it’s going to change as more film people get into TV.”

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