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FX building a laffer block

'Starved,' 'Sunny' skeins to go forward under Landgraf

FX is launching its first-ever comedy block, greenlighting single-cam comedy pilots “Starved” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to series.

Cabler has ordered seven episodes of each show, both of which are slated for a summer premiere.

“Starved” and “Sunny” are the first comedy skeins to move forward under entertainment chief John Landgraf, who had been pushing to develop a comedy brand since he arrived last year (Daily Variety, June 23). They’ll be the first shows FX will produce inhouse.

As an exec producer of Comedy Central’s “Cops” spoof “Reno 911!,” Landgraf is already well versed in producing low-budget laffers.

“Starved” stars Broadway thesp Laura Benanti as one of four thirtysomething pals — three guys and a girl — battling eating disorders. Eric Schaeffer (“My Life Is in Turnaround”) wrote, directed and co-starred in the pilot, a comedic take on America’s addiction to food. Series will be shot in New York with Schaeffer and Basic Elements’ Dan Pasternack exec producing.

“Sunny,” about a diverse group of friends who own a bar, comes from tyro scribe and struggling actor Rob McElhenney, who will exec produce with 3 Arts reps Nick Frenkel and Michael Rotenberg. McElhenney last year submitted the pilot, which he wrote and shot himself with a group of acting pals, in hopes of scoring a regular acting gig for himself (Daily Variety, Sept. 27). Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day also star and exec produce.

Landgraf said he will likely premiere the pair at 10 p.m. during a period that coincides with a new season of an original drama — “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck” or “Rescue Me” — in order to promote the comedies, a genre that cablers have had little luck launching.

FX had attempted original comedy with the ratings-challenged half-hour “Lucky,” a show that lasted just one season but landed an Emmy nom for comedy writing — a first for basic cable.

Content of both “Starved” and “Sunny” will be targeted to the older, more discriminating crowd that tune in to the channel’s original hours.

FX had also been considering comedy pilots from Jamie Foxx and Andrew Gurland for the block.

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