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Ulin gets a ‘Life’ with TBS

Cabler teams with Ulin for 'Boy's'

TBS is teaming with “Malcolm in the Middle” scribe Rob Ulin on a single-camera family laffer — a departure from the comedy cabler’s brand of high-concept original reality.

Network has greenlit production on a series pilot for “Boy’s Life,” about the relationship between an eighth grader and his slightly eccentric single mom. Ulin wrote the script and will exec produce the series. TBS will produce.

“Boy’s Life” represents a new programming strategy for the cabler, which now falls under the aegis of entertainment prexy Michael Wright. Wright, who added TBS to his bailiwick last fall (Daily Variety, Oct. 3), was the key exec behind TNT breakthrough hit “The Closer.”

Exec’s goal is to produce “populist but smart” fare to compliment the cabler’s arsenal of top-rated sitcoms such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” To date, TBS has garnered buzz on the originals front for competition skeins — “The Real Gilligan’s Island” and “Outback Jack” — but suffered ratings hits with personality-centric reality fare such as “Minding the Store” and “Daisy Does America.”

Wright told Daily Variety that “Boy’s Life” marks a departure from “trying to be edgy.”

“The TBS audience is engaged by relationship and character-driven, as opposed to high-concept, comedy,” Wright said. “Rob has written for ‘Malcolm’ and ‘Roseanne’ — those are the kind of shows that I reference when I’m out to writers and producers interested in working with TBS.”

“Boy’s Life” is narrated by middle-schooler Scott, who loves his mom but winces when she starts dating his gym teacher, the father of his class rival. Like “Malcolm,” stories will be close-ended and revolve around Scott’s misadventures.

“Scott is a bit of a smart-ass, but he loves his mom,” Wright said. “All of Rob’s writing is based in real human interaction, and that’s why it fits perfectly with our acquired series. Going forward, we want our originals to be in line with shows like ‘Raymond.’ ”

Casting is under way on “Boy’s Life,” one of two scripted comedies in series consideration for 2006. The other is “My Boys,” about the dating life of a sport columnist, from Gavin Polone, Jamie Tarses and scribe Betsy Thomas.

Ulin’s served as co-exec producer for “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” “Roseanne” and “Malcolm.” He exec produced “The Norm Show.”

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