Eye goes to head of the ‘Class’

Net buys laffer from Crane, Klarik

CBS has given a 13-episode order to “Class,” the half-hour laffer created by David Crane (“Friends”) and Jeffrey Klarik (“Half and Half”).

Eye secured the project after a fierce bidding war, in which several networks — including NBC and Fox — made strong plays for the show (Daily Variety, Oct. 5). Warner Bros. TV, where Crane is based, will produce.

Although network and studio declined to elaborate on terms of the agreement — other to dismiss rampant speculation over rumored deal sweeteners — the “Class” deal easily makes it one of the biggest, if not the top, pilot commitments this year.

Given the auspices, it’s not hard to see why. As part of the Bright/Kauffman/Crane behemoth, Crane also was behind skeins such as “Veronica’s Closet,” while Klarik’s credits other include “Mad About You.”

Both also have a solid history with the CBS team, including topper Leslie Moonves. Moonves was in charge of Warner Bros. TV when “Friends” was developed; “Half and Half” airs on UPN, which falls under Moonves’ domain.

“There were lots of places we wanted to be, and certainly at CBS we go back 15 years with Les,” Crane said. “There’s a real history there. That was important.”

Of course, the two men also have a strong history at NBC, the home of both “Friends” and “Mad About You.” According to a person familiar with NBC’s bid, the Peacock put a 22-episode commitment on the table as part of its all-out effort to get the Crane/Klarik skein.

“Class” revolves around a core group of eight twentysomethings who were all in the same third-grade class 20 years ago.

Most of the group doesn’t keep in touch or even remember one another. They’re brought together again by happenstance when one of them throws a surprise anniversary party for his girlfriend — whom he met in the third grade.

“They have separate lives and there are few connections that exist beforehand,” Klarik said. “But through the course of the series, connections are made between the characters. It’s about following their individual lives — there’s no one living room where they gather.”

Beyond the core eight, Crane and Klarik said the show will be populated by several other recurring characters, giving it a larger scope than traditional half-hours.

The scribes said they were inspired by the large casts of reality shows, realizing viewers now are used to more complex worlds populated by many more characters.

“We wanted to do something that felt a little more like these shows we’re watching, where you have to tune in next week to see what happened,” Crane said.

Given where they are in their careers, Crane and Klarik easily could have landed a project commitment without writing a word. But the duo wrote “Class” on spec, which they believed would give them more creative control as a result.

“When (the networks) were reading it and buying it, they knew that this is the show — like it or not, this is what you’re buying,” Crane said. “And this way we knew it was something we could be happy with as well.”

Beyond the large cast, “Class” will require many more sets than a typical sitcom. But the scribes aren’t too concerned about increased costs.

“Our job is to come up each week with stories you like and characters you want to know,” Crane said.

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