Family looks for laughs

20 pilots to fill slots in Fox sked premiere, mostly sitcoms

NEW YORK — The Fox Family Channel, which is less than three months away from premiering a schedule of new series between 6 and 9 every night, has released a laundry list of 20 pilots from which it will choose the programs.

Half-hour sitcoms dominate the list. “We’re looking for high-concept comedies whose main appeal is to the 18- to 49-year-olds,” says Lance Robbins, president of TV movies and series for Saban Entertainment.

Robbins says that the two series furthest along in development are “Misguided Angels,” about two bumbling seraphs dispatched to Earth to re-earn their wings, and “Big Wolf on Campus,” a special-effects comedy about a teenage boy who becomes a werewolf. The Montreal-based Telescene Communications will produce both shows and get distribution rights outside the United States if one or both goes to series.

‘SNL’ figure returns

Also slated for the schedule is “Ooohhh, Noooo!!!, Mr. Bill Presents,” a series featuring the clay figure from “Saturday Night Live.”

Although Fox Family has bought a number of theatrical movies and plans to spend an additional $125 million to produce 26 original movies in the next year, all slated to get their first run at 9 every night, sources say the network will steer clear of one-hour drama and action series for the foreseeable future because they cost too much to produce.

Fox Family will officially shed its previous incarnation as the Family Channel on Saturday, Aug. 15, when it runs a two-hour Spice Girls concert that premiered on Showtime earlier this year and a one-hour documentary on Leonardo DiCaprio called “Leo Mania.”

Bought out Robertson

Rupert Murdoch and Haim Saban paid $1.9 billion last year to buy the Family Channel from Pat Robertson’s Intl. Family Entertainment.

Other pilots include:

– “Show Me the Funny,” featuring clips of “funny animals, sports goofs, ‘stupid-people’ tricks … hidden-camera stunts and practical jokes,” produced by Vin DiBona (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”).

– “AXN,” a reality half-hour from Columbia TriStar TV focusing on “real-life rescues, daredevil stunts, extreme sports,” etc.

-‘”Look Who’s Talking,” a gameshow hosted by John Salley in which two families “compete to figure out comedic secrets both parents and kids have revealed about each other.” It’s from Stone Stanley Prods.