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CBS firms on ethnic cop drama

'Sopranos' scribe inks with CBS, Big Ticket

CBS has given a firm pilot commitment to a multicultural cop drama from Frank Renzulli, an Emmy-nominated scribe on HBO’s white-hot mob hit “The Sopranos.”

Renzulli’s also just inked a major development deal with Big Ticket Entertainment.

Skein, a co-production of CBS Prods. and Big Ticket, focuses on a beat cop who lives and works in an urban neighborhood. Tentatively titled “The Beat,” the show will mix elements of comedy into the hourlong format, a formula which has worked well for “The Sopranos.”

Cast is expected to include at least one minority lead and will feature several other minority characters.

The pilot is one of several projects with minority themes greenlit in recent weeks as webs actively look to add racial diversity to their development rosters.

A script has already been written for “The Beat,” which had been in development at the Eye for more than a year before Big Ticket came on board as a production partner after inking its deal with Renzulli.

That deal calls for Renzulli, a writer and supervising producer on “The Sopranos,” to write and produce both half-hour and hourlong programs for Big Ticket. Pact is said to be worth low seven figures.

CBS and Big Ticket had been in business via a big-bucks development deal with scribe Brad Hall (“The Single Guy”), but insiders say the Eye’s deal with Hall is now essentially dead, with Hall choosing to focus on features. Commitments made to Hall’s projects have been rolled over to the Spelling-owned Big Ticket, which will soon become a corporate cousin of CBS following the Eye’s pending merger with Viacom.

Name for “The Beat” may well change if the pilot is picked up for a series. Later this year UPN is skedded to bow its own one-hour drama about two Gotham cops called, natch, “The Beat.”

Renzulli is repped by Endeavor.