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ABC makes time for ‘Call’

'Kitchen' creator sets laffer for Alphabet

The exec producers of “24” are teaming with “Kitchen Confidential” creator Dave Hemingson for a real-time comedy at ABC.

After a fierce bidding war with Fox, Alphabet has won the rights to the 20th Century Fox TV-produced laffer by stepping up with a six-episode commitment. A hefty penalty is attached to the net’s commitment.

Hemingson will write the pilot, exec producing with Real Time Prods.’ Joel Surnow, Bob Cochran and Howard Gordon. Project is targeted for a fall 2007 debut.

Tentatively dubbed “The Call,” half-hour is a cross between “Emergency!” and “MASH,” with a dose of “Seinfeld” thrown in for good measure. Skein will focus on two offbeat but talented L.A. paramedics who save people’s lives even as they’re messing up each other’s.

Each seg will unfold in real time over the course of roughly 22 minutes, a concept last used during the first season of NBC’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus laffer “Watching Ellie.”

Unlike that skein, however, Hemingson has no plans to feature an on-camera countdown clock. And unlike “24,” action on “The Call” won’t be serialized from week to week.

Concept for “The Call” began with the Real Time production trio, Hemingson said, adding that 20th Century Fox TV toppers Dana Walden and Gary Newman “brokered the marriage” to bring him onboard.

Hemingson then fleshed out some characters and worked with Cochran, Surnow and Gordon to finalize the pitch.

“I really believe that people are what they do, and this is a chance to see people doing things under pressure,” Hemingson said. “We’re supercharging that interpersonal comedy and letting it go at 90 miles per hour.”

Real-time format will “be an interesting challenge,” he said. “It’s going to force these characters to react and respond.

“The hope is that this produces something really original and different and funny. It’d be great to have some stakes in comedy again.”

Two lead characters will be Nick Adams and Ian Wode, who are best friends despite their differences.

Hemingson describes Adams as “Dr. Doug Ross from ‘ER’ if he were played by Vince Vaughn,” while Wode is a man who has “an encyclopedic knowledge of everything. The irony is he knows so much it freaks him out.”

In addition to “The Call,” Surnow, Cochran and Gordon are developing a drama for Fox this season.

Hemingson works on “American Dad.” His past credits include “Family Guy” and “Just Shoot Me.”

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