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NBC sinks teeth into Par ‘Viper’

NBC hopes to burn up the ratings track next fall with Paramount Network TV’s “Viper,” a high-tech action series originally developed at CBS, which ultimately passed on the project.

The show — which, NBC confirmed, has a commitment for a two-hour movie plus six one-hour episodes — features Chrysler’s $ 50,000 Viper sports car as its souped-up, crime-fighting centerpiece.

Creators and show runners are the team of Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, whose credits include Disney’s “The Rocketeer” and the CBS series “The Flash.”

A lead has yet to be cast in the show, which is scheduled to begin production on the two-hour kickoff shortly.

Paramount’s “Viper” prompted Stephen J. Cannell Prods. to change the name of a first-run syndicated hour it’s distributing — which at first had the same moniker — to “Cobra.”

It’s become accepted practice for networks to pick up projects developed elsewhere as production companies seek to keep concepts alive and not swallow the cost of development. Last year, for example, Fox Broadcasting Co. picked up two series, “Woops!” and “Rachel Gunn, R.N.,” which were initially developed for NBC and CBS, respectively.

In addition to “Viper,” NBC has another car-driven movie/pilot in the works, Universal TV’s “Knightrider 2010,” a futuristic revival of the NBC series that ran from 1982-86. Universal has indicated that its show could end up becoming part of MCA TV’s planned package of two dozen original action movies — being syndicated under the umbrella title “Universal Action Network”– should NBC pass on it as a series.

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