Sly Fox nabs Pam project

Net lands laffer with six-episode commitment

After a bidding war with ABC, Fox has landed the Steve Levitan-Pam Anderson comedy project by making a rare six-episode on-air commitment to the project — even though the pilot script has yet to be written.

Both webs were keen on the laffer, a “Cheers”-like half-hour in which Anderson plays a bad girl-gone-good who ends up working in an upscale bookstore (Daily Variety, Nov. 30). In fact, Levitan and his camp originally seemed inclined to set up shop at the Alphabet, whose entertainment prexy Steve McPherson had been aggressively courting the 20th Century Fox TV project.

But Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman was just as determined to land the show.

Fox’s guarantee

Even before there was an Anderson/Levitan project, top execs at Fox apparently reached out to both Anderson and her reps to encourage her to jump back to series television. And after ABC and Fox both made roughly similar initial proposals, Berman upped the ante by offering a firm guarantee that the show would be produced — essentially ending the bidding.

“We had a highly competitive situation, and we stepped up in a major way,” Berman said. “We think that Pam Anderson is going to be a major television star for us, and we’ve had many positive experiences working with Steve at the network. We decided to go the distance for this.”

Because 20th and Fox are sister companies — like Touchstone and ABC, or CBS and Paramount — any competitive situation that ends up being settled in favor of the network automatically raises eyebrows among those convinced that higher corporate forces mandate all big decisions. That Levitan — who has an overall deal at 20th — may originally have been leaning toward ABC further muddies the water.

Still, Fox’s blockbuster final offer makes it hard to argue the Levitan/Anderson project didn’t fetch maximum market value.

Levitan, who was unavailable for comment, issued a statement that made it clear he was satisfied with Fox’s commitment.

Lauds ‘bold move’

“Having multiple suitors is both flattering and enormously complicated, but in the end Fox made a really bold move that essentially made the decision for us,” he said.

Levitan’s and Anderson’s UTA reps declined comment.

In New York for a taping of “Hope & Faith,” McPherson seemed disappointed to lose Anderson, a former “Home Improvement” star. Exec didn’t seem overly upset, however.

“We really wanted it. We like Pam and Steve a lot,” he said. Exec then slyly acknowledged the bidding situation.

“We thought it would have made a great ABC show,” he said. “We thought they (thought so), too.”

Levitan is having a banner year. In addition to the Fox series order, he also has a put pilot at NBC (Daily Variety, Oct. 15). He most recently exec produced “Oliver Beene” and “Greg the Bunny” for Fox.

Anderson’s series credits include “V.I.P.” and “Stripperella.”

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