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ABC high on Heaton

ABC/Touchstone antes up for thesp

“Everybody Loves Raymond” star Patricia Heaton has wasted no time finding a new TV family, inking a seven-figure talent and production deal with ABC/Touchstone.

Pact, which runs for a little more than a year, sets up Heaton and her Four Boy Films banner on the Disney lot, where the two-time Emmy winner will develop and exec produce telepics and skeins with her production partner and husband, David Hunt.

ABC and Touchstone also will develop a comedy or drama project in which Heaton will star and co-exec produce. It’s considered unlikely Heaton would return to a series role before January.

Heaton’s deal was quietly brokered last year but only confirmed Monday — hours after the final episode of “Raymond” wrapped filming.

Steve McPherson, prexy of ABC Entertainment, said the net and studio pounced as soon as “we found out she was looking to find a new home.”

“We’re looking for strong female voices, and she possesses a great range of talents,” he told Daily Variety. “She’s strong, she’s sexy, and she’s funny.”

Touchstone prexy Mark Pedowitz said the studio was looking forward to collaborating with Heaton, whom he praised for her “considerable talents.”

McPherson said there will be “no pressure” in finding the right project in which Heaton might star. He also left open the possibility that the net would entertain projects from other studios if they made sense for Heaton.

“It’s really about doing the right thing. We’re not on a schedule,” he said.

Another soon-to-be “Raymond” alum, Brad Garrett, is developing a comedy for HBO. CBS execs haven’t ruled out the possibility of a “Raymond” spinoff starring Garrett, however.

Four Boys is developing biopic “Wilberforce” with Philip Anschutz’s Walden Media. Shingle recently wrapped production on docu feature “The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania,” which Hunt helmed.

Heaton, who is in the middle of a lucrative spokesperson deal with the Albertson’s supermarket chain, is up for three SAG Awards this year, two for “Raymond” (for comedy series female actor and ensemble) and one for her work in TNT’s remake of “The Goodbye Girl.”

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