New comedy to star Elfman

ABC is close to landing a new Darren Star-produced comedy project starring Jenna Elfman and written by bestselling Australian novelist Matthew Reilly.

Sony Pictures Television, which has an overall deal with Darren Star Prods., will produce. Alphabet is set to make a pilot commitment to the project, with a significant penalty — payable to Elfman — attached if the project does not go forward.

Talks with ABC are advancing quickly, though insiders cautioned that the deal isn’t quite wrapped and that there’s an outside chance another player, likely NBC, could score the project.

Single-camera laffer, tentatively dubbed “Literary Superstar,” will have Elfman playing a book publicist who’s intensely loyal to her clients. When budget cuts threaten her publishing house, she stands up to the corporate suits — and successfully lobbies for the right to continue working with smaller, quirkier authors.

In addition to focusing on different authors each week, skein also will explore Elfman’s character as she pursues love and happiness.

Star and Reilly will exec produce, with Reilly penning the pilot script. Elfman is expected to shoot the pilot in the fall, after giving birth.

Reilly is best known for his movielike action thrillers, including “The Ice Station” and “Scarecrow.” Former title was optioned by Paramount Pictures in 2002, though no film has yet resulted.

WMA-repped Star, whose Sony shingle is run by Susie Fitzgerald, has been having a busy development season. He’s producing “Cashmere Mafia” for ABC and awaiting word from Showtime on the fate of his pilot for “Manchild.”

Showtime is also developing “Nighty Night” with Star and Fitzgerald.

As for Elfman, CAA-repped thesp has been under a deal with CBS Paramount Network Television, but that pact expires shortly, allowing her to partner with Sony and Star. Best known for “Dharma and Greg,” she was last seen in the Eye laffer “Courting Alex.”

Up next for her is a guest starring gig on the Alphabet’s frosh hit “Brothers & Sisters.” Elfman is set to play Lizzy Jones, a pregnant woman who is a rival to Calista Flockhart’s character.

ABC and Sony declined comment.

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