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‘Savages’ summoned

Fox TV inks to shape U.S. version of Brit laffer

Fox Television Studios has pacted with “Coupling” exec producer Beryl Vertue and “Men Behaving Badly” scribe Simon Nye to create an American version of the U.K. comedy “The Savages.”

Nye, whose original British “Men Behaving Badly” was a huge international hit (and spawned a short-lived U.S. version), will pen the pilot script to “The Savages” and exec produce with Vertue.

Regency TV, which falls under the watch of Fox TV Studios, is also onboard as a producer.

“The Savages” revolves around successful cartoonist Adam and wife Jessica, a travel agent, both of whom are coping with parenthood and living with Adam’s father, Donald.

“It’s a funny, wry look at what happens to a young couple when children come into their lives,” Vertue said. “I just felt there was hopefully a place for this in the States.”

Vertue and Nye were recruited to produce a U.S. version of “The Savages” by Fox TV Studios’ David Martin, exec VP of Fox Alternative Prods.

Martin’s admiration

Martin became a fan of the U.K. show after seeing it in Australia, where he previously headed up Fox’s TV operations for the continent. After taking over Fox Alternative Prods. last fall, he chased down Vertue and Nye to consider a U.S. version of “The Savages.”

“When I saw it down in Australia, I loved it. I thought it had wide appeal,” Martin said of the show. “Then I came here to run alternative at Fox TV Studios, and it felt like it fit into the model we had.”

Regency was brought onboard because Fox Alternative Prods. focuses more on smaller, lower-budget projects.

“They are certainly a sister company, and we work closely together across the boards,” Martin said. “In my view, they’re the premiere boutique comedy producer in town.”

Nye and Vertue plan to work closely with a yet-to-be-named American showrunner as development progresses on the show. Martin said “The Savages” will likely be pitched to networks around town before that U.S. exec producer is found.

U.K. series coming over

“The Savages” joins a growing number of scripted U.K. properties making it to this side of the Pond, including NBC’s “Coupling” and Fox’s “The Ortegas” (based on “The Kumars at No. 42”).

And the trend continues to spread: Pariah TV recently announced plans to translate the Blighty laffer “Father Ted” for U.S. auds.

“One of the advantages we have in the U.K. is we do such short stories,” Vertue said, referring to the small number of series episodes produced there. “That allows them to be very authored series, with one writer, one voice. When it works, it works really well.”

Only six episodes of “The Savages” were produced by the BBC, which aired the series in 2001; Vertue said the show fell through the cracks after the U.K. pubcaster switched program controllers.

Nye and Vertue also worked together on the U.K. “Men Behaving Badly.” Nye’s other credits include “How Do You Want Me?” and “Beast.”

Vertue’s lengthy career includes exporting the format “Till Death Us Do Part” to the U.S., where it turned into Norman Lear’s “All in the Family,” as well as “Steptoe and Son,” which became “Sanford and Son.” She also produced several U.S. telepics and exec produced the feature version of The Who’s “Tommy.”

Her Hartswood Films is behind the U.K.’s “Coupling” as well as the six seasons of the British “Men Behaving Badly.”

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