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‘Cosby’ scribe gets NBC order

Chenoweth inked to topline

NBC’s aggressive hunt for fresh comedy blood continues: The Peacock has given Paramount Network Television a 13-seg order for a half-hour sitcom to be created by Emmy-winning scribe John Markus (“The Cosby Show.”)

Broadway thesp Kristin Chenoweth, who snagged a Tony Award earlier this year for playing Sally in the revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” is set to star in the skein, which is being targeted for a fall 2000 bow.

“Many people have had their eyes on Kristin Chenoweth for some time now, and we’re lucky to have her star in this project,” said NBC Entertainment prexy Garth Ancier. “Combining her considerable talents with those of John Markus — an experienced, top-notch showrunner– is a dream come true.”

Markus is still writing a pilot script, but Chenoweth is expected to play a young woman who takes a job as an executive assistant after two years of unsuccessfully pursuing her Broadway dreams. Markus said Chenoweth’s character will have “strong moral values and a sense of spirituality,” and may even have regular semi-comic conversations with God. Her boss, meanwhile, will be an ethically challenged “amalgam of several powerful men in New York at a younger age.”

“She has the wings of a bird, and he has the wings of a bat,” Markus said.

Markus scored an Emmy award for his work as an original member of the writing staff and showrunner (1985-90) of “The Cosby Show.” He wrote or co-wrote 67 segs of the classic laffer.

After “Cosby,” Markus co-created and co-exec produced the NBC sitcom “Lateline” and served as a writer and producer on HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show.”

In addition to her role in “Charlie Brown,” Chenoweth had a regular role on the American Movie Classics skein “Paramour” and made a guest appearance on “Lateline.” She also appeared in last night’s ABC telepic adaptation of “Annie.”

The Markus/Chenoweth commitment is one of several multi-episode comedy orders NBC has handed out recently as part of its effort to find a new generation of laffers.

Last week, the Peacock inked a deal with Carsey-Werner Prods. for 13 segs of a new family sitcom to be created by Bonnie and Terry Turner (“3rd Rock from the Sun”). Earlier this fall, the web committed to six segs of a midseason comedy which will star former “Seinfeld” sidekick Michael Richards and feature several former “Seinfeld” alum as writers and producers.

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