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NBC’s British accent

Net pacting with Granada for tsunami pic

NBC and Granada America are teaming up to develop a telepic about last year’s Asian tsunami.

Pic is one of several scripted projects in the works from the U.S. arm of Brit giant ITV, which has rapidly expanded its Stateside presence in the 18 months since Paul Jackson took over the division.

Company also confirmed Thursday that it’s about to start casting for a TNT movie about Gotham teacher Ron Clark.

As for the Peacock project, untitled event pic will be a true-life human-interest story focusing on a coastal orphanage impacted by the tsunami. Granada is currently looking for a writer to pen the project which, though still in the early stages of development, is being targeted for a 2006 premiere.

Granada has long been a major distributor of TV films in the U.S. market, but under CEO Jackson and Granada America prexy Stephen Davis, division is seeking to ramp up production on projects that originate in-house.

“This office is focused on building a major production company in Hollywood,” Davis told Daily Variety. “We’re poised to continue this ramp up in the next couple of months.”

Jackson noted that by the end of the year, Granada America will have snagged orders for more than 150 hours of programming. “Since fall, we’ve doubled the (output),” he said.

“It’s a very un-British thing to blow your horn,” Jackson added.

“But it’s not un-American,” Davis said. “I’m waving the flag.”

New to the company’s slate: “The Ron Clark Story,” a two-hour TNT telepic about a New York teacher whose inspirational style has landed him on “Oprah.” Max Enscoe and Annie deYoung are writing the script, and casting is expected to start shortly.

Jackson said Granada’s in-the-works list of projects includes reality pilots for the WB and ABC, though he wouldn’t discuss specifics. He also wants to keep trying on the scripted comedy front; last year, Granada developed “The Furst Family” for the Alphabet.

Company’s unscripted business is also heating up, with “Hell’s Kitchen” a summer success story for Fox and “Hit Me Baby One More Time” generating pop-culture buzz on NBC. Peacock also recently ordered “I’m A Celebrity But I Want to Be a Pop Star” from Granada (Daily Variety, June 20), while “Nanny 911” will be back for more episodes next season.

Major cable projects include “Airline,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “Room Raiders” and “First 48.”

On the longform front, Granada America’s previously announced projects include a co-producer credit on CBS’s “Pope John Paul II” and A&E’s “The Hillary Clinton Story.”

Series-wise, John Sacret Young (“China Beach”) is developing the potential series “Soldier Soldier” at Showtime, basing his project on the BBC skein of the 1960s.

Davis said Granada will continue to mine its vast library of 39,000 hours for potential remakes and formats, both for features and TV. And while Granada will develop internally, it still plans to seek co-financing ventures, particularly on series.

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