Spinoff eyes possible January premiere

“The OC” creator Josh Schwartz is closing in on a deal to develop a companion series to the hit Fox drama.

Scribe will reteam with “OC” production partners McG, Stephanie Savage and Bob De Laurentiis for the Warner Bros. TV project. Schwartz will write the pilot episode and exec produce the new series, but a showrunner-exec producer will be brought in to handle the new show on a day-to-day basis.

Skein will not be an “OC” spinoff, and Schwartz will remain exec producer and showrunner on “The OC,” which wrapped its successful frosh season last week.

Details of the pact are still being hammered out, but Fox is expected to make a substantial commitment to the project, targeted for a possible January premiere.

All parties involved in the new project are staying mum about the idea for the show. Industry insiders, however, expect the skein will mirror “The OC’s” mix of younger and older characters, but with the overall skein skewing slightly older than “The OC.”

“The OC” is Fox’s biggest success story of the 2003-04 season, regularly finishing first or second in the timeslot. Skein got off to an OK start last summer, then quickly built an audience when Fox decided to air same-week repeats of the show for several weeks.

Ratings have improved markedly since “American Idol” became “The OC’s” lead-in, with the latter show averaging a 4.9/12 among adults 18-49 since “Idol” returned.

While “The OC” has strong sudser elements, skein has also turned into a critical darling, with reviewers taking note of the show’s ability to blend humor with drama. Its young stars have also become overnight media sensations, allowing Fox to recapture some of the teen and 12- to 34-year-old mojo that the WB had stolen away in recent years.

Reps for Fox and WBTV, as well as Endeavor — which reps all parties involved — declined comment.

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