Radio’s Hendrie spins Fox toon

Net crafting deal for pilot, script

Phil Hendrie is getting animated — literally.

Steve Levitan is teaming with scribes Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Clone High”) to create, write and exec produce a half-hour animated comedy for Fox Broadcasting Co. revolving around a fictional character with many similarities to Hendrie, the critically-hailed KFI-AM gabber known for his “theater of the mind”-style show.

Net is hammering out a deal for a put pilot presentation and script for the project, to be produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Hendrie will serve as co-exec producer.

Untitled skein will have Hendrie playing a recently-successful radio talkshow host who, after landing a gig in a major market, ends up marrying a woman with three children and moving into a gated suburban community.

“All of a sudden he’s faced with raising three kids of his own and living in a gated community that, instead of keeping all the crazy people out, is keeping them in,” Levitan said. Hendrie’s alter-ego will often take controversial stances (like Hendrie) and then return home to face the consequences.

“His character is someone who likes to stir things up, while his wife just wants to fit in,” Levitan said.

Hendrie will supply all the voices in the show, save for his fictional family. Producers also hope to incorporate real audio from Hendrie’s KFI show as well as feature some improv elements similar to those in the radio skein.

Levitan is a fan of Hendrie’s show who first hooked up with the host nearly a year ago, when Hendrie was beginning to develop a comedy for NBC. Two men discussed ideas, but Levitan didn’t think a show would be viable unless it was animated; Peacock brass weren’t looking for an animated show.

After Hendrie’s NBC project didn’t go forward, Levitan heard that Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman was looking for animated shows. Levitan brought in Lord and Miller, who had animation experience from their buzzworthy MTV animated skein “Clone High,” and the trio hammered out a concept for what a Hendrie show would be.

“We went to Phil (Monday) night and pitched the idea, hoping he would like it,” Levitan said. “Fortunately, he did and we pitched it to Fox (Tuesday.)”

Fox Entertainment exec VP Craig Erwich called the teaming of Levitan, Lord, Miller and Hendrie “an amazing bunch” and said the project would give the net another solid shot in the animation arena.

“Between Phil’s voice and our ability to launch animated shows, this seemed like a natural match,” Erwich said of the UTA packaged project.

Gary Newman, prexy of 20th, said he had confidence in Levitan, Lord and Miller “to bring a unique voice to television.”

“With this show, you get Phil’s commentary on the social condition of the suburbs post 9/11,” Newman said. “That’s what’s going to make this feel fresh and special.”

Fox has three other animated projects in the works for next season.

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