Projects with similar themes line up at Par, Sony, NBC

Hollywood has the hots for friends with benefits.

Sony Pictures, Paramount and NBC all have projects where these special relationships are the central focus of the pic or show’s premise.

And they are all expected to bow in 2011.

While Hollywood’s penchant for copycat development (volcanos in 1997, asteroids in 1998, the Three Musketeers in 2011, vampires — even Truman Capote got two biopics a few years ago), it’s unusual to see a phrase that’s entered the pop vernacular catch on in so many places at once.

Steve Ward, CEO of Master Matchmakers and host of VH1’s “Tough Love,” says unfettered romance is becoming even more socially acceptable.

“We live in a society that wants instant gratification,” Ward says, “so it is becoming more and more common … to see these types of relationships.”

A Paramount insider merely says they thought the script was very funny and that there was a feeling this was a fresh take on the relationship comedy.

As long as everybody understands the rules upfront.

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